ExxonMobil’s Oil Transport Plan Passes Before Planning Commission

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ExxonMobil is proposing to restart offshore oil production and truck the oil to receiving sites in Santa Maria and Kern County on highways 101 and 166.

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The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission is due to hold hearings on September 29 and October 1 for ExxonMobil’s proposal to restart oil production at its Santa Ynez unit, which plans to truck oil to sites. reception of Santa Maria and Kern County via highways. 101 and 166.

ExxonMobil’s Santa Ynez unit and its three offshore platforms in the Santa Barbara Canal have been out of service since 2015, when the Plains All American pipeline ruptured and spilled over 123,228 gallons of oil near Refugio State Beach.

The project proposes to transport oil by truck from the ExxonMobil processing plant in Las Flores Canyon on the Gaviota coast.

The tankers would run on Highway 101 to the Phillips 66 Santa Maria pumping station and on Highway 166 to the Plains Pentland terminal near Maricopa in Kern County. Previously, oil flowed through the Plains pipeline.

Under the plan, up to 70 trucks a day would carry oil seven days a week for seven years or until a new pipeline becomes available, unless the county extends the project.

In a 2020 staff report, the Planning Commission recommended a modified interim trucking plan that would allow up to 78 trucks to leave the Las Flores facility per day, but eliminate the Plains Pentland terminal as a site. reception. Access to this terminal would only be permitted for limited use if the Santa Maria pumping station was down for an extended period, defined as at least 10 consecutive days.

Another condition of the modified trucking plan was to eliminate trucking during heavy rains.

The Planning Commission initially opposed trucking to the Kern County terminal because of the traffic hazards on Highway 166 and the risk of an oil spill.

Although the city councils of Buellton and Santa Maria have passed resolutions supporting the interim truck transport plan, the city councils of Goleta, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo have passed resolutions opposing it.

Many environmental organizations have also expressed their opposition.

“Santa Barbara (County) Planning Commission must reject staff recommendation to allow ExxonMobil to truck crude oil along dangerous Route 166,” said Linda Krop, chief environmental defense counsel. Center, in a press release.

“Just last year, a tanker truck crashed into Route 166, dumping thousands of gallons of oil into the Cuyama River. More accidents and spills that threaten our public safety, water quality and wildlife are inevitable. “

Since the publication of the initial staff report, Phillips 66 has announced that it will close its Santa Maria facility in 2023.

On Thursday, the Planning Commission released a final and updated staff report that included a modified interim trucking plan, which is the same as its original recommendation, with one exception: ExxonMobil would be allowed to truck oil to ‘at the Plains Pentland terminal, using Highway 166., once the Santa Maria facility closes permanently in 2023.

This would allow ExxonMobil to send up to 78 trucks a day to Kern County, with an annual limit of 24,820 trucks, and each truck carrying around 6,720 gallons of oil.

In the final revised environmental impact report for the proposal, one “significant and unavoidable class I impact” was identified regarding accidental crude oil spills from truck accidents and two potentially significant “class II impacts”. mitigable ”have been identified regarding air quality and greenhouse effects. gas emission.

The impact report also identified two “significant but mitigable” impacts on road safety.

Several organizations, environmental groups and individuals have formed a coalition against the trucking plan, including the Chumash Nation Coastal Strip, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Defense Center, the UC Santa Barbara Environmental Affairs Board, and the Sierra Club’s Los Padres chapter.

“As the Chumash people, we continue to be concerned about the amount and methods of oil and gas extraction from our native lands and native waters,” said Mariza Sullivan, Tribal Chairperson of the Coastal Strip of the Chumash Nation, in a statement.

“The oil trucking project, while moving forward with a full pipeline replacement project, is unthinkable. Not only will it meander its destructive path through our ancestral lands, but it will add to the long history of the systemic erasure of the Chumash people. “

In a 2019 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina, about 72% of 890 Santa Barbara County voters who responded said they were somewhat concerned or very concerned about “the safety of our people. local highways though up to 70 tankers. trucks are allowed on our roads every day.

The ExxonMobil website states that “the Santa Ynez unit has a long history of safe and trouble-free operations” and that “the project trucks will account for less than 1% of the existing traffic on the planned routes, with only about four to six trucks on the road at one time.

The Planning Commission hearings on the proposed plan will begin at its September 29 meeting, which will begin at 9 a.m. and will be webcast live on the county’s website.

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