ExxonMobil wants to use dozens of trucks to transport crude oil along Central Coast highways.
Trucks would travel along Highway 101 transporting thousands of gallons of oil every day. This has caused concern among environmental advocates in the county.
The project set to be discussed next month by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission would initiate the phased restart of ExxonMobil's offshore oil platforms and onshore processing facility off the southern Santa Barbara County coast.
To get the crude oil to refineries in Santa Maria and Maricopa, trucks would load up at ExxonMobil's Las Flores Canyon Facility.
Under the proposed project, ExxonMobil would be able to transport those oil tanker trucks along Highway 101, something environmentalists say poses a huge risk of potential oil spills and accidents.
"The county looks at one truck and says 'ok, the max spill is going to be the volume in one truck,' but there are 70 trucks a day,” said Linda Krop with the Environmental Defense Center.
According to the Revised Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report, trucking would occur seven days per week, 24 hours a day with no more than 70 trucks on a daily basis.
Each truck would transport approximately 160 barrels of crude oil which equals 6,720 gallons for a daily average of 11,200 barrels which amounts to almost half a million gallons a day (470,400 gallons).
"When we perform our staff analysis, we really try to focus on the relevant policy and ordinance standards when assessing the project as well as the environmental impacts,” said Errin Briggs, Supervising Planner with the County's Planning and Development Department.
According to the report, trucking oil would stop once a pipeline became available or after seven years or whichever is shorter.
In a statement, an ExxonMobil representative responded to the concerns, saying:
Resuming operations at SYU would bring a number of benefits to Santa Barbara, including local jobs and millions in vital tax revenues for county schools, public safety, and healthcare services.
The operation provides energy and products demanded by the California market that has been produced under strict environmental and safety standards of the county, state, and federal governments.
Our highest priority is the safety of our employees and the people who live and work in our community. our trucking routes must be approved by the county, and we must follow more than 100 laws, rules, regulations, and policies at county, state, and federal levels governing our operation, which are among the strictest in the world.
According to county officials, the report was also adjusted after the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery announced its future closure, which would mean after they close, ExxonMobil would have to use Highway 166 to truck all of the crude oil to Kern County.
The scheduled hearing to recommend project approval or denial to the board of supervisors is set for September 29 and October 1 of this year.
To participate in the hearing, community members must email the project planner by September 24, 2021. Click here for more information.