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Phillips 66 and opposing groups react to oil-by-rail proposal being derailed

Three years after Phillips 66 proposed transporting two million gallons of crude oil by rail – San Luis Obispo County has rejected the plan.

Thursday afternoon, Phillips 66 as well as opponents of the project were reacting.

For three years, Laurance Shinderman and his Mesa Refinery Watch Group worked hard to deny Phillips 66 from transporting its oil by rail past their homes. On Wednesday afternoon, all that hard work paid off as the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission voted 3-2 to derail Phillips 66’s plan.

“Now crude oil trains come down now..but we don’t have them stopping off right in our backyard,” Laurance Shinderman with the Mesa Refinery Watch Group said.

The three planning commissioners who voted against Phillips 66 cited safety and environmental reasons for rejecting the plan.

In response, Phillips 66 released this statement: “We presented a strong proposal, and will review the concerns raised and consider our options, including the right to appeal.”

The oil giant would like to build a larger rail spur to the existing Union Pacific line that runs along the Santa Maria Refinery on Highway 1 – to allow for more rail cars carrying crude into the refinery on the Nipomo Mesa.

“So I think Phillips 66 realizes they’re in for a fight if they continue on,” Shinderman said.

Shinderman says the project is dangerous.

“Literally obliterating towns,” Shinderman said.

He believes the oil-by-rail project would bring down the housing value in their neighborhoods, would be an eyesore.. and could be potentially dangerous- pointing to past train derailments around the world.

“It’s about the health, safety and welfare of tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people,” Shinderman said.

Phillips 66 says it needs to import crude by rail because of a drop in local and statewide oil production that currently comes in by truck and pipeline. But Shinderman isn’t having it..

“It was not just a local project where Phillips says oh it’s about jobs, it wasn’t about jobs,” Shinderman said.

Phillips 66 has two weeks to appeal the planning commissions decision.

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