Letter to San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission Regarding the Proposed Rail-spur Extension at the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery in the Nipomo Dunes

December 2, 2014

November 24, 2014

To the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission:

Dear Planning Commissioners/Board of Supervisors:
The Citizens Planning Association has been a voice for sound land use policies for more than 54 years.  Our board has studied the issues related to the proposed rail-spur extension at the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery in the Nipomo Dunes.  Due to  the significant unmitigable negative impacts of this project, CPA urges the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to deny this project.

This project would accommodate five trains of 80 tank cars per week, bringing in crude oil from tar sands from other regions.  The DEIR discusses impacts that might occur along the Union Pacific mainline which transverses San Luis and Santa Barbara Counties.  Some of the negative impacts include significant toxic air emissions at the refinery and the potential for accidents on the main rail line that could result in oil spills, fires and explosions near populated areas.

In the event of an oil spill, there could be significant and unavoidable impacts to agricultural crops and biological resources. A derailment near any of our water sources could contaminate our drinking water.  Fire protection and emergency services along the mainline would be inadequate in case of a catastrophic explosion or derailment.

Greenhouse gas emissions could be significant and unavoidable and would exceed the APCD's threshold.  Oil from the Canadian tar sands is much more carbon intensive than other sources of oil.

Added to these negative impacts is the question of county vs. federal law; would lax federal oversight prevent the Counties from mitigating these negative impacts.

Because of these concerns and other deficiencies found in the DEIR, CPA urges a denial of this project.
Mary Ellen Brooks
Acting President
Citizens Planning Association

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