Editorials

Phillips 66 just won’t take no for an answer on SLO County oil-by-rail project

A protest against the approval of oil trains coming through San Luis Obispo County was held at Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo in July 2016. Protesters march with signs down Santa Barbara Street in San Luis Obispo toward the Amtrak train station.
A protest against the approval of oil trains coming through San Luis Obispo County was held at Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo in July 2016. Protesters march with signs down Santa Barbara Street in San Luis Obispo toward the Amtrak train station. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Phillips 66 won’t take two nos for an answer.

Like the Little Engine That Could, the company is still trying to conquer that hill — but its goal isn’t delivering toys to the next town.

No, Phillips wants to build a controversial oil-by-rail facility that would accommodate mile-long trains carrying crude oil to its Nipomo Mesa refinery.

After being turned down by the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission (first no) and the county Board of Supervisors (second no), Phillips could appeal to the state Coastal Commission, but it’s decided to skip that step.

That’s understandable, inasmuch as Phillips probably has less than a 0.00000000000001 percent chance of getting the Coastal Commission’s blessing to build a facility that would accommodate what some opponents refer to as “bomb trains.”

Instead, Phillips is going straight to court — or more accurately, back to court, because it already filed a lawsuit challenging the county’s designation of environmentally sensitive habitat.

That case was put on hold when Judge Barry LaBarbera told Phillips to exhaust its administrative options first. An appeal to the Coastal Commission is considered an administrative option, so it will be interesting to hear what Phillips has to say at its next court date.

Meanwhile, we’ve got a new assignment for the Little Engine: Haul a load of brickbats to Phillips 66 for continuing to push a project that is not right for the Central Coast.

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