Supes Double Down on Opposing SLO Rail Spur Project

Controversial Project Ignited Debate Statewide

County supervisors discuss authorizing Chair Joan Hartmann to send a letter urging the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to deny the Phillips 66 application for its Rail Spur Extension Project
Paul Wellman

Even before the county supervisors started discussing the controversial rail spur extension project proposed by Phillips 66, 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam got up and left the dais. “I’m going to excuse myself,” he said, complaining the Board of Supervisors already formally opposed the San Luis Obispo project last year.

Pictured: Peter Adam left the dais during this agenda item.
Paul Wellman

But county supervisors Janet Wolf and Joan Hartmann called for the board to send another letter to SLO’s Board of Supervisors to oppose the proposal, in unison with elected officials from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

The project, which SLO’s Planning Commission shot down last fall after several impassioned days of testimony from both environmentalists and energy workers, was appealed by the oil company to SLO’s Board of Supervisors. They will consider the proposal on March 13.

Santa Barbara's supervisors voted to send a second letter to their counterparts in San Luis Obispo to oppose Phillips 66's rail spur project.
Creative Commons

If approved, the project would modify Phillips 66’s existing unloading facility to allow the company to import crude oil by trains that are nearly a mile long, each carrying up to 2.2 million gallons of oil. Three of these trains would arrive weekly at the refinery —scaled down after the company initially proposed five — and travel along Santa Barbara’s coastal rail line.

Wolf maintained that the project would seriously impact Santa Barbara County, including residential neighborhoods and schools in her Goleta-area district.

The board voted 3-0, with county supervisors Adam and Steve Lavagnino absent, to oppose the project. SLO’s county supervisors are expected to make a decision later this month after several days of testimonies. The vote could result in a 2-2 tie as SLO County Supervisor John Peschong told the San Luis Obispo Tribune he would rescue himself because his public affairs consulting firm did business with Phillips 66. In the case of a tie, the Planning Commission’s denial stands.


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