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Environment and Energy

San Luis Obispo County staff recommends denial of Phillips 66 rail spur proposal

Phillips 66

The public will get a chance to sound off next week on a controversial rail project proposed for the Phillips 66 refinery near Nipomo. 

The project would increase the amount of crude shipped by train through the Central Coast. 

County staff is recommending the commission deny the request. It released its findings for denial of the Phillips 66 project saying there are not enough benefits to outweigh the significant environmental impacts of the project.

The plan would involve unloading up to 400 tank cars from five trains each week, with a maximum of 250 trains per year, or 20-thousand tank cars.

Several municipalities along the Union Pacific corridor from the Bay Area to Southern California have sent letters of concern to San Luis Obispo County leaders.

Valerie Love is the Clean Energy Campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity and has been vocally against the project for the past two years.

"We've really never seen such a thorough and detailed staff report that so clearly lays out the risks and recommends to deny the project," she said. "This could really be a precedent for many communities that right now are considering whether or not to approve similar projects."

But, Phillips has said the rail shipments are important to the future operation of the refinery.

Dennis Nuss is a spokesperson for Phillips 66 and told KCBX in an email they understand there are concerns about the project and look forward to addressing questions raised in the final EIR during the planning commission hearing.

That public hearing is set for February 4th and 5th in San Luis Obispo.

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