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Possibility of more oil trains passing through Santa Barbara is focus of community meeting

Flickr member Drew Jacksich

Santa Barbara County and City leaders will be take part in a community meeting Monday night to discuss the proposed Phillips 66 oil train project.

A growing number of districts and municipalities up and down the California coast, including several cities and counties, are writing to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission to express concern over the plan. All are situated along Union Pacific rail lines that could potentially carry the additional tanker cars.

At issue is Phillips 66 desire to increase its capacity to ship oil by train to its Santa Maria Refinery, located due west of Nipomo and south of Arroyo Grande along SR 1.

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider plans to be at the meeting even though her city council has no plans currently to discuss the matter.

"I'm looking at this issue as an oil-by-rail safety issue, not necessarily about the project at hand, although obviously the two are linked," said Schneider. "The nexus for the City of Santa Barbara is the safety concerns that could occur should there be an increase of transport of oil by rail."

Phillips 66 is not planning on attending the Santa Barbara event. The company said in a statement to KCBX, that if the project is approved, Union Pacific will be responsible for delivering the crude to and from the refinery.

The company said it also expects the project's yet-to-be-released Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will address issues raised by the community.