San Luis Obispo County has rejected a proposal by Phillips 66 to ship crude oil via trains to its coastal refinery near Santa Maria – some of which would have traveled through central Sacramento.
The county Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 on Tuesday to deny the oil company the right to build a spur line and oil loading terminal to receive several trains a week carrying crude from U.S. and Canadian oil fields. Some of the trains were likely to ship through Northern California, including through Roseville, downtown Sacramento and Bay Area cities.
It is the second major defeat for oil companies seeking to diversify their oil stock by taking in shipments from train.
Last fall, the city of Benicia denied the Valero Refining company’s request to build an oil loading terminal so that it could receive two 50-car shipments of oil daily, traveling through Roseville, Sacramento, Davis and other Northern California cities. Valero gets most of its oil via marine shipment.
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Both projects faced vociferous statewide opposition from anti-oil advocates, environmentalists and community leaders and residents who feared potential oil spills, explosions and fires.
Sacramento area leaders did not explicitly oppose the shipments but sent letters expressing their concerns about rail shipment safety and supporting Benicia’s authority to reject the proposals.
“This is a tremendous victory for the people of San Luis Obispo County and communities across California,” said Ethan Buckner of crude shipment opponent Stand.earth. “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.”
Several opponents said they hope the project failures will push the energy industry and elected leaders to work more on developing clean energy sources.
Phillips officials said they were not yet sure what their next step will be. “We presented a strong proposal and will review the concerns raised today. We will also consider all of our options,” Phillips spokesman Rich Johnson said in an email to The Bee.
Supervisor Debbie Arnold cast the sole vote against the denial, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, saying she was concerned about gasoline prices and that truck shipments of crude oil by truck could increase.