Oil Train Project Stopped in its Tracks as Company Drops Fight

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Oil-train projects have run into local opposition in Benicia, in the Bay Area, and in central and southern California. Photo Credit: Vladyslav Danilin
Oil-train projects have run into local opposition in Benicia, in the Bay Area, and in central and southern California. Photo Credit: Vladyslav Danilin

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

NIPOMO, Calif. – A project to send hundreds of oil trains rumbling up and down the central California Coast appears to be dead. The oil company announced Monday it is giving up the fight to secure county approval.

Oil giant Phillips 66 has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against San Luis Obispo County – that challenged the denial of permits to build a rail spur starting in Nipomo that would have facilitated transport of millions of gallons of flammable oil each year.

Attorney Alicia Roessler with the Environmental Defense Center, who worked on the case, says residents from multiple cities opposed the oil train project for safety reasons.

“And it’s just a very, very dangerous project that has significant hazards from dangerous explosions, and these rail trains have horrific rail accidents and just a terrible record for that,” she explains.

In 2013, an oil train derailment caused a massive fire in Quebec that killed 47 people. Phillips 66 has said the line would diversify oil supply in the state.

Roessler notes that this project would have allowed more than 2 million gallons of oil to pass through dozens of communities every week.

“If the project was approved it would have allowed up to five 80-car trains each carrying more than 26,000 gallons of crude oil through Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties each week,” she says.

Multiple community groups opposed the project, including the Surfrider Foundation, the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Stand.Earth and Communities for a Better Environment.

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