This is a rebuttal to another citizen’s touting tax revenues for Santa Ynez schools and the divisive notion of “colonies” sectioning our county due to the opposing opinions of the ExxonMobil Interim Trucking for Santa Ynez Unit Phased Restart Project. Where are the statistics that show how the school districts have met their expenses in the last five years since the Refugio oil spill in 2015?
If you want to divide the county, then you might find it interesting to read the many letters (on the County Planning website) from organizations and from the North County citizens in Nipomo, Oceano, Santa Maria, and New Cuyama opposing the project and objecting to the SEIR (Supplemental Environmental Impact Report) report, also on the County Planning website. Many people don’t want these trucks and the spills on their highway areas affecting their safety, their environment, and their traffic (unlike Santa Ynez which will be spared the project).
The dangerous highway 166 and the windy parts of the 101 make the project just too precarious. Supposedly, Caltrans finds that it’s no more risky than other roads, quoted in this report, but I beg to differ. Take a count of the many fatalities and frequency of accidents, including the most recent MVAs (moving vehicle accidents), 6-05-20, and 6-20-20 (in which two men died and four others were injured). Top that with the oil tanker truck accident on March 21, 2020, dumping 4,500 gallons of crude into the Cuyama River, just a few miles from Twitchell Dam, which closed the highway and required three weeks for clean up. You’ll never convince me that this two lane, dark and windy highway with a 7 percent grade into Maricopa will be safe for 70 to 78 trucks, with up to and over 6,000 gallons of crude oil per truck (averaging 3.3 trucks per hour), on the roads is prudent.
Even Section 4.3 (regarding hazardous materials) provides the probability of the oil spill from tanker trucks. Additional text has been added to Section 4.5.4, Risk 3. The last sentence concludes: “Therefore, however low the risk, depending on the location of the spill, the environmental conditions, and the biological resource present, the short and long term effects to the biological resources associated with a truck accident has the potential to be significant and unavoidable.”
When planners, supervisors, and citizens examine the risk to our water and biological resources, and the already busy transportation corridor with other big rigs, and the lives of our citizens is weighed against the further inevitable environmental degradation to the beguiling big oil deals, there’s only one response. Indeed, the Goleta School Board voted sensibly. To vote otherwise is simply unconscionable and irresponsible at best, but predictably unsafe and environmentally suicidal.
The next Planning Commission meeting will be Wednesday, September 2, 2020. Check it out, and stay informed.
Correction: The date on one of the accidents on the 166 was corrected to 6-20-20 from 6-02-20.