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Planning Commission wraps up public comment on controversial rail proposal

Draft Environmental Impact Report

The final ruling on whether Phillips 66 can increase the number of oil shipments by train along the Central Coast is expected to be made in the coming months. 

The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission heard the last of public comment on the proposal on Friday.

The Commission heard from many in support of the Phillips 66 project, a stark contrast to preceding hearings where hundreds spoke out against the proposal.

Jim Anderson is the Maintenance Superintendent of the Phillips 66 Santa Maria refinery and said potential jobs and tax money are on the line.

"For sixty years, we've been a valuable neighbor to the South County, and really the County in general, when it comes to property taxes, sales taxes, and contributions to the economy that, not only Phillips 66 makes, but also our employees and the 1200 local jobs," he said.

However, some opponents of the proposal, like Leslie Bennett from Nipomo, said Phillips 66 filled the hearing with uninformed supporters.

"Then again, there are people who don't live here, aren't affected by the rail spur, and who have no idea what the hearing is about. But they've showed up and they filled up the stadium and they've spoken at the podium," she said.

The Commission spent the duration of the meeting diving into the legal ramifications surrounding a portion of the proposal.

Ryan Hostetter, Supervising Planner for the County, said the Commission will continue its deliberation during its next meeting in April. The final decision is expected to be made in May.

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