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SLO County Planning Commission votes to deny Phillips 66 rail spur project

Phillips 66
The Santa Maria Refinery, located just west of Nipomo.

The proposal by Phillips 66 to increase the number of trains bringing crude oil to its Santa Maria refinery will not move forward with a recommendation by the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission. 

Three out of five Commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to deny the request to build a rail spur at the facility just west of Nipomo.

The controversial plan called for greatly increasing rail access to the facility, and hence, increasing oil train traffic along the Union Pacific line.

Mesa Refinery Watch Group Spokesperson Laurance Shinderman said Wednesday that the issue is now likely headed to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, but believes the recent vote helps set a tone for future debate.

"When you have the planning staff saying no to it, and now the planning commissioners saying not to it...the sentiment seems to be leaning our way," said Shinderman.

Phillips 66 Spokesperson Dennis Nuss sent a statement to KCBX via email:

"We presented a strong proposal, and will review the concerns raised today and consider our options, including the right to appeal."

Regardless of what happens at the County Board of Supervisors level, many involved with the process believe the issue will ultimately end up before the California Coastal Commission.