The San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors yesterday voted to reject Phillips 66’s proposed oil train offloading terminal. The project was denied with a 3-1 vote, with one supervisor recusing himself in a conflict of interest.
Phillips 66 had appealed the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission decision to reject their controversial oil train project last October, which came after a nearly three-year review process. More than 34,000 Californians have opposed the project in comments and petitions, and more than 45 cities, counties, and school boards have sent letters urging the County to deny the crude-by-rail proposal. The Board of Supervisors’ denial was the second community victory in less than a week, after a Superior Court judge ruled that Phillips’ legal challenge to the earlier Planning Commission decision was premature.
If built, the Phillips 66 oil trains terminal would have allowed more than 7 million gallons of crude oil to be shipped via rail to its local refinery each week, and made it possible for Phillips 66 to refine volatile and carbon-intensive tar sands crude from Canada. Tar sands crude, when prepared for transport, is thinned with an unstable blend of chemicals that have been known to explode in derailment incidents, which have become increasingly frequent in recent years.
Trains servicing the Phillips 66 project would have traveled from the north and south through hundreds of major California cities and smaller communities, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Davis, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Jose. These trains also would have jeopardized numerous ecologically sensitive areas including the San Francisco Bay and California’s iconic central coast.
Public interest groups released the following statements:
“I am so glad to see the Supervisors stand with the people in this community and beyond by denying this dangerous, city and detrimental project. The San Luis Obispo City Council has had a consistent stance against this project and for the renewable energy future we need. This genie fits perfectly into the city’s major city goal of putting action into our Climate Action Plan.”
—Heidi Harmon, Mayor of San Luis Obispo
“This is a huge victory for public safety, health and California’s environment. It’s really gratifying to know that the board of supervisors listened to those who spoke out against this project – every day Californians from all walks of life as well as more than 45 cities, counties and school boards. Hopefully this spells the end to this reckless plan. Our communities will be safer and our air will be cleaner because of it.”
—Valerie Love, Clean Energy Campaigner, Center for Biological Diversity
“San Luis Obispo County has succeeded in taking the fork in the road away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy. We are living in an era that requires vigilance against the normalization of terrible ideas and disastrous policies. Our supervisors’ just showed that they understand that building a terminal for tar sands crude oil in Nipomo and transporting 7 million gallons a week of the world’s dirtiest fuel into the county by rail is a bad idea. We expect we will have to continue to help Phillips 66 understand that.”
—Andrew Christie, Chapter Director, Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter
“This is a tremendous victory for the people of San Luis Obispo County and communities across California. The voices of thousands of California residents and dozens of cities, counties, and school boards have been heard: there is no place for oil trains in California’s communities. Now, we can focus our attention towards building the clean energy economy in San Luis Obispo and beyond.”
—Ethan Buckner, Senior Organizer with Stand.earth.
““We applaud the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors for considering all the evidence, listening to concerned citizens throughout the State, and denying this dangerous project,” said Linda Krop, Chief Counsel for the Environmental Defense Center. “The Board’s action was the right decision and the only possible decision if the goal is to keep our communities and environment safe.”
—Linda Krop, Chief Counsel, Environmental Defense Center
“This is a tremendous victory for people power over corporate power. Californians around the state have rejected these dangerous bomb train projects using local authority to defeat Billion Oil’s greedy plans.”
—Andres Soto, Communities for a Better Environment
“San Luis Obispo County just confirmed what tens of thousands of Californians have been saying for years: Expanding fossil fuel infrastructure is a disastrous idea. Today’s decision is a monumental victory for clean air, the fight to slow climate change and the health of local residents. We’ll continue working to pressure other communities in California and nationwide to follow the example set by San Luis Obispo County today and take a stand against fossil fuel infrastructure.”
– Josh Nelson, Deputy Political Director, CREDO