SLO County Planning Commission denies Phillips 66 rail spur project
October 5, 2016
After more than eight months of hearings, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission voted 3-2 on Wednesday to deny the controversial Phillips 66 rail spur project. Commissioners Don Campbell and Jim Harrison dissented.
Phillips 66 was seeking approval to build a rail spur so that crude oil currently delivered by pipeline could be transported to the Nipomo Mesa refinery by train. Hearings on the rail spur project began in early February. The planning commission has spent the majority of the meetings listening to public comment, which has largely been in opposition to the project.
Commissioners Jim Irving, Eric Meyer and Ken Topping voted against the proposed rail spur project noting safety concerns and the wide spread opposition to the project.
Commissioner Harrison said he thought oil transported by rail was preferable to oil transported by trucks. Both commissioners Harrison and Campbell noted that there are already trains transporting oil through the county, and that the Phillips 66 project would have a minor impact on the number of trains traversing the county.
Phillips 66 officials said oil production is decreasing in California, and the rail spur would allow the company to bring in crude oil from new suppliers. Company officials said, if the county rejects the rail spur, Phillips 66 will deliver the additional oil by truck.
Nevertheless, the rail spur project is expected to be appealed to the SLO County Board of Supervisors.
If Phillips 66 files an appeal, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will vote on the project, most likely in early 2017.