Transportation

Environmentalists challenge Kern County crude oil transfers

Environmentalists say the Plains All American crude oil transfer station in Kern County was approved illegally. The facility near Taft imports oil on trains that travel through Sacramento.
Environmentalists say the Plains All American crude oil transfer station in Kern County was approved illegally. The facility near Taft imports oil on trains that travel through Sacramento. jvillegas@sacbee.com

The environmental coalition that successfully shut down a crude oil transfer station in Sacramento last year has filed a new lawsuit challenging the permits for an oil transfer facility in Kern County, outside Bakersfield.

Earthjustice representatives say the Bakersfield Crude Terminal owner Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. and the local air quality management district illegally avoided conducting public environmental reviews before approving the facility, which opened last year and accepts shipments of up to 100 crude oil train cars a day, including trains that periodically travel through Sacramento from Canada.

A previous Earthjustice lawsuit prompted the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality District to acknowledge it mistakenly permitted crude oil transfers at a smaller transfer station in McClellan Business Park last year without an environmental review. The company, InterState Oil, had been transferring oil from trains to tanker trucks bound for the Bay Area.

Earthjustice also sued air quality management officials in the Bay Area about the lack of environmental review for a crude oil train transfer facility in Richmond, but lost in court because the statute of limitations had passed.

The lawsuit in Kern County is the second in the last year involving a crude-by-rail facility there. Earthjustice and other environmental groups have also challenged plans to bring crude oil by train to a Bakersfield refinery. Some of those trains could travel through Sacramento. Crude oil train shipments have become increasingly common in the United States and have become controversial in the wake of several major derailments and explosions in recent years.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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