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Energy

Large public turnout expected for Phillips 66 rail spur hearing

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Phillips 66
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A hearing is set for Thursday and Friday for the public to finally sound off on the Phillips 66 rail spur proposal.

The project would increase the number of trains carrying crude oil along the Union Pacific Rail Line by as many as 250 per year, or 20-thousand tank cars.

The oil company sent a letter to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission this week, highlighting an alternative plan previously outlined in the Environmental Impact Report. It would reduce the number of weekly trains from five to three, and according to the letter, would reduce impacts from the project to "less than significant" levels.

The company said that move would preempt the project under federal rules—which could give the county no authority to block the trains.

Laurance Shinderman is with the Mesa Refinery Watch Group, an organization working against the rail proposal. He said the Planning Commission can deny the company's ability to build the infrastructure to take in the additional trains, and that would likely set off a long legal battle.

"The Planning Commission can say no, and then it can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors, and then further on, if they don't win again, they can then be appealed to the Coastal Commission," said Shindermann. "And I think, then again, it may end up possibly in the Supreme Court."

KCBX reached out to Phillips 66 for comment on the Reduced Rail Deliveries Alternative and received the same general quote the company has been giving for months:

“We understand that there are concerns about the rail project and we look forward to addressing questions raised in the final EIR during this week's planning commission hearing.”