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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 26th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 4 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 4

Santa Maria supports ExxonMobil's oil trucking proposal

By CHRIS MCGUINNESS

The Santa Maria City Council put its support behind a proposal to truck crude oil through Santa Barbara County, bucking two other Central Coast city councils that have voted to oppose it.

The Santa Maria City Council voted 4-1 at a March 19 meeting to support ExxonMobil's oil trucking proposal, which is currently under review by Santa Barbara County.


KEEP ON TRUCKIN’
The Santa Maria City Council says it supports ExxonMobil’s proposal to truck oil on Santa Barbara County roads.
FILE PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER

If passed, the proposal would give ExxonMobil a temporary trucking permit to transport a limited amount of crude oil from its facility in Los Flores Canyon. Operations at the facility are currently suspended as a result of the 2015 Refugio oil spill, which shut down the 901 pipeline operated by Plains All American Pipeline and shuttered offshore oil platforms, including those owned by ExxonMobil.

If the county approves that permit, the company would be able to truck no more than 70 truckloads of crude per day to refineries located in Nipomo and Kern County.

A report to the council by city staff touted the project's economic benefits, noting that ExxonMobil's operations were a major source of revenue via federal oil and gas royalties and that the company was one of the largest single taxpayers in the county, adding more than $45 million to the county coffers between 2005 and 2015.

"You cannot ignore the fact that income provided by the oil and gas industry ... is actually quite large," said Frances Romero, a Santa Maria resident who spoke in support of the proposal.

Other residents urged the county not to support the proposal. Many of them noted recent oil tanker-involved crashes in or near the city, including one in December 2018 that caused a fatality on Highway 166.

"I would hate to think that, in an urgency to begin some transportation of oil in probably the most dangerous way ... that we would rush into this and support it," said Santa Maria resident David Dennis. "It poses a potential risk to the public that I don't believe the council should support."

Brian Smith, ExxonMobil's regulatory safety superintendent for California operations, attended the meeting and spoke to the council about the proposed project's safety.

"This facility has safe operations and environmental management as the top priority for every individual at our facility," he said.

Gloria Soto was the lone councilmember to vote against supporting the project, asking that they delay the vote until the county released an environmental impact report (EIR) on the proposal.

"Without an EIR, I feel ill-informed on this issue," Soto said. "We still don't know what the final findings on this trucking proposal [will be] ... in the city of Santa Maria and county."

The council's show of support for ExxonMobil's proposal comes after both the cities of San Luis Obispo and Goleta voted to oppose the company's request to truck oil through their counties.









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