On Tuesday, March 14, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to deny the Phillips 66 oil trains project, with one supervisor recusing himself. People Power prevailed!
Citizens from San Luis Obispo County and all over Northern California played a critical role in securing the denial of Phillips 66’s proposed oil trains project by the County of San Luis Obispo’s Planning Commission last October—and now the County Board of Supervisors! This is a momentous victory after years of organizing up and down the state rail routes.
What was at stake: Phillips 66 sought approval to construct a 1.3-mile rail spur from its Nipomo Mesa refinery to the main rail line in order to receive crude oil by train. The proposal called for weekly deliveries from three 80-car trains, with each train hauling about 2.2 million gallons of crude oil.
Phillips 66’s Nipomo Mesa refinery currently receives its heavy crude oil by pipeline. It begins the processing in its central coast refinery, then sends it by pipeline to its co-facility in Rodeo, where the processing is completed. Together the two facilities are considered to be two halves of the San Francisco Refinery, linked by a 200-mile pipeline.
The rail line leading to the Nipomo Mesa refinery cuts through heavily populated areas. It is likely that Phillip 66 would be importing Canadian tar sands oil as well as fracked Bakken crude. Both crudes are highly volatile (in the case of tar sands because of the diluents used to transport it)—and are far more flammable than traditional crudes.
Any rail incident involving these crude oils could be disastrous. Train incidents involving crude oil went up sixteen-fold between 2010 and 2014.
The Phillips 66 oil trains project would have sent oil trains through dozens of communities across the state en route to its refinery. People Power has stopped that dangerous proposal in its tracks.