On Thursday, February 4th our South Bay Los Angeles 350 Youth Group Leaders (or the SBLA350YGL) Madison Gilmartin and Jesse Padilla (seen flanking 350 SLO leader, Heidi Harman in photo above) attended the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission hearing on the Phillips 66 proposal to dramatically modify and expand their existing rail spur to accommodate more crude oil deliveries. The following is Madison’s report and includes the video Jesse shot of Madison’s public testimony at the hearing.
Our Youth Group, joined by Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) students, Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, and other concerned LA area residents, left for San Luis Obispo (SLO) on a bus at 4:00 a.m. departing from San Pedro.
We attended day one of the two days of hearings where citizens are allowed the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions about the expansion project. Other organizations we are aligned with also present at the event included: California Nurses Association, Center for Biological Diversity, Forest Ethics, Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter, Surfrider Foundation San Luis Obispo Chapter, Empower Body Coalition, Heidi Harmon from 350 SLO, and EcoSlo.
Philips 66’s original plan included bringing 250 oil trains per year, about five per week. After public disapproval, they created an alternative plan of 150 oil trains per year, averaging about three per week. The alternate plan was the topic of discussion for this Planning Commission public hearing.
The Staff of Philips 66 presented their argument on why the oil train’s infrastructure should be expanded to the Santa Maria Refinery.
They first explained how Phillips 66 does not produce the oil, they just transport and sell oil and gas. They also addressed that due to the increase demand for crude oil, crude oil is “for the future.” The project also had the incentive of 12 permanent jobs and other various jobs during construction.
I was proud to help represent the Youth Group and the POLAH students, by speaking to the the Planning Commission officials during the public speaking time. Here’s the video Jesse Padilla shot of my comments:
The main points I made in my comments included:
1. The short sighted and unsustainable nature of Phillips 66 proposed expansion.
2. The pollution and degradation caused by the oil rail expansion will directly affect the Los Angeles River.
3. Generations of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students will be affected by the expansion.
The San Louis Obispo representatives will decide whether to accept or decline the Phillips 66 project in the upcoming weeks. We can only hope that they listen to the voice of the people and those of us in the younger generations.
– Madison Gilmartin, South Bay Los Angeles 350 Youth Group Leader