Phillips 66 rail project considered by San Miguel school board

San Miguel Joint Union School District trustees did not take a position Thursday after hearing arguments for and against a rail project at a Nipomo Mesa refinery that would allow it to receive crude oil by rail.

District Superintendent Curt Dubost said about 15 people spoke at the school board meeting about the Phillips 66 Co. proposal, but no board members made a motion to vote on a resolution opposing the project.

“We listened to input and then the board president asked if anyone cared to make a motion and no one did,” Dubost said Friday.

Phillips 66 now receives crude oil by pipeline and has applied to San Luis Obispo County for permits to build a 1.3-mile spur connecting to the main rail line, so that trains can deliver crude to the refinery.

The rail spur project would include installing five parallel tracks, an unloading facility and on-site pipelines for trains to deliver crude oil for processing. Phillips 66 anticipates unloading up to five trains a week with about 80 tank cars each, with a maximum of about 250 trains arriving each year.

Dozens of elected officials and agencies in California have penned letters or passed resolutions against the plan, including the cities of Grover Beach and San Luis Obispo, the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association and Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higginbotham, who said her opposition hinged on whether the project’s final environmental impact report would sufficiently address 11 unavoidable environmental impacts — called Class 1 impacts — in the draft EIR.

Dubost said about 20 people attended the meeting, including opponents of the rail spur project, supporters or family members of refinery workers, and one San Miguel parent who expressed concerns about her children’s safety. Project opponents had asked the board to take a position.

Cynthia Lambert: 805-781-7929, @ClambertSLO