City Council in opposition to Phillips 66 rail extension proposal to transport crude oil through Moorpark

At their December 17th meeting the Moorpark City Council was asked by staff to consider submitting a letter to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission on the proposed extension of the Phillips 66 Company’s Santa Maria refinery rail spur. The matter was continued from December 3, 2014 so Mayor Pro Tem Keith Millhouse could give his input.  Staff recommended that a letter be submitted to the Luis Obispo County Planning Commission opposing the project.  The objection would be based on a perceived hazardous impact related to the risk of crude oil being transported along the Union Pacific rail line.  It was felt this could increase the chance of a fire or an explosion in the vicinity of the populated area of Moorpark.

David Bobardt, the City’s Community Development Director, stated that every jurisdiction along the proposed extension had been sent notice and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

header-logoThere were three speakers for public comments.  A grandmother worried about the health risks and the possibility of explosions.  The two remaining speakers represented the Ventura County Climate Hub, VCCOOL, an organization of 40 environmental groups.  They urged the Council to write the letter of opposition. They believed oil is destroying lives and likelihoods. “50 tanker cars leaking can ruin your whole day.”  The speakers stated solar, wind, wave energy would better. The pair said they planned on addressing the Camarillo and Oxnard councils since those cities are also are situated along the proposed route.

Councilmember Keith Millhouse: “A pipeline can take it [the oil] all the way to the port…We are talking one train a day.”  He urged everyone: “Let’s not create hysteria.” Millhouse pointed out: “It’s not that flammable crude.” He said that transporting heavy crude by train was the safest way, and that instead of opposing it they should just make sure the company was using the safest and latest methods and equipment.. 

Councilmember Roseann Mikos disagreed. Sure they can make safer train cars but why increase chances something can happen.

Millhouse countered:  “There’s risks in life.” He went on: “We just voted to expand seating in a church. Now there will be more cars, more chances for accidents.” Millhouse was referring to an earlier agenda item where the Kim Clement Center at 13960 Peach Hill Road, which had its Conditional Use Permit approved last year for a 258 seat auditorium, just had the Council approve increasing their capacity by 25% for a total of 358 seats.  Millhouse said he: “Would rather put out a constructive letter.”

Councilmember Mikos still disagreed and made a motion to soften the language of the letter but still be opposition.  Her motion passed, with Millhouse voting, no.

Debra Tash is Editor-in-Chief of Citizensjournal.us, past president for Citizens Alliance for Property Rights, business executive and award-winning author, residing in Somis.

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