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Date set for Phillips 66 appeal of denied oil-by-rail project near Nipomo

Phillips 66
The company's railcars at its Ferndale, WA refinery.

A date has been set for appeal hearings in the Phillips 66 oil-by-rail plan. In early March, county officials will revisit a proposal by the oil company to build a rail line extension from the company’s Nipomo Mesa Refinery to the main rail line.

As KCBX reported in October, after the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission denied the plan earlier that month, the county received two appeals — one from a developer concerned about public access to the coastline, and the other from Phillips 66. Both are asking the board to overturn the planning commission’s decision and allow the rail spur to be built.

The extension would allow three 80-car trains every week, each delivering over 2 million gallons of crude oil. The rail spur project attracted statewide attention, with opponents saying they fear a derailment of the trains hauling the crude oil, and supporters saying the project could benefit the region’s economy.

Phillips 66 maintains that the county violated one of its own ordinances by accepting the rail spur application before planners determined that the project site had areas of environmentally sensitive habitat.

At several county meetings in 2016, hundreds of demonstrators protested against the plan.

On Thursday, County Administrative Officer Dan Buckshi said if the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors agrees with the Planning Commission’s decision to deny the project in March, Phillips 66 could still appeal that decision with the California Coastal Commission.

Although it usually meets on Tuesdays, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is expected to start the Phillips 66 appeal hearings at 9 a.m. Monday, March 13, 2017.

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