Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Intends to Recommend Denial of ExxonMobil Trucking | Government and Politics


The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission is set to recommend that the supervisory board reject ExxonMobil’s request to haul crude oil from its Gaviota Coast processing plant to Santa Maria and to another site in County of Santa Maria. Kern.

In a 3-2 vote on Wednesday after a day of hearing, commissioners asked staff to come back with findings that a proposed primary consideration statement does not outweigh the potential for an environmental impact of Inevitable and significant class 1 of an oil tanker accident and oil spill.

The conclusions could include that the negative impacts are not mitigated to the extent possible and that the project will be detrimental to the health, safety and well-being of the community and will not correspond to the neighborhood.

Staff are to come back with the revised findings at the committee meeting on November 3, when a final decision is expected on a recommendation to supervisors.

The Commissioners’ decision on Wednesday resulted in the cancellation of a second day of hearing on Friday.

Fourth District Commissioner and President Larry Ferini and Fifth District Commissioner Dan Blough dissented in the vote as both were prepared to recommend approval to the supervisory board.

Blough said the millions of dollars in taxes the county would receive and the hundreds of jobs the project would provide for local workers was the primary consideration in accepting the inevitable Class 1 impacts.

The vote came at the end of a relatively short period of deliberation after some 60 members of the public spoke, with opponents of the project outweighing supporters by about nine to one.

Much of the opposition focused on the potential environmental impacts of a tanker accident and subsequent oil spill, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the project, the limited benefits of the oil it would provide; and the need to move away from fossil fuels.

The promoters focused on the company’s safety record, the taxes the project would provide the county, the imported foreign oil it would replace, and the well-paying jobs would provide the full educational spectrum for local workers.

In subsequent deliberations, Ferini presented an inch-thick bundle of documents which he said contained 1,680 signatures from people supporting the project from the south coast to Santa Maria.

“So there was a lot of support for the project but a lot more vocal support against it,” Ferini said.

ExxonMobil intends to restart production from three offshore platforms and deliver crude oil to its Las Flores Canyon facility, which was forced to shut down after a Plains All American pipeline ruptured in May 2015 and the spill of 100,000 gallons of oil, some of which reached the beach.

After this line and another Plains pipeline closed, ExxonMobil had no way of delivering its crude oil from Las Flores Canyon to the Phillips 66 pump station east of Santa Maria.

ExxonMobil was seeking a permit to transport crude oil by truck on route 101 to Phillips 66 station and, after its scheduled closure in 2023, along route 166 to the Plains Pentland terminal in Maricopa.

Trucks could make a maximum of 70 trips per day to Santa Maria or 25,550 trips per year and 68 per day to Pentland, with a maximum of 24,820 trips per year. Trucks could not travel during times of heavy rain, and an ExxonMobil spokesperson said they would not travel along Calle Real during times when school buses picked up and dropped off children.

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