County Planning Commission Sept 22nd, 2016 Oil Trains Hearing

On Thursday, Sept 22nd 2016 the County Planning Commission is set to hear from Staff, who were “tasked” with the (impossible?) job of coming up with possible mitigation options. (See agenda).

The Environmental Impact Report noted that there are at least a dozen Class I environmental impacts. Defined as; Class I– Significant impacts that cannot be mitigated to less than significant levels. (See executive summary here.)

Also several of the Class I impacts were reduced to Class II by “recommendations” that are unenforceable by either the county or state. Federal law preempts county and state enforcement of any operations on the railroad right of way. So recommendations to use safer tanker cars or less polluting locomotives could be simply ignored by Union Pacific, and there would be no recourse. This also applies to limits to the number of trains per week or the source of the oil. Once the rail spur is built, our county has no way of holding Phillip 66 to their word.

This is why Planning Commission Staff strongly recommended against approving the project. It is almost unheard of for Commissioners to not accept staff’s recommendation. However they voted to continue the consideration, and told Staff to figure out how to make it okay. A clearly politically motivated path.

We need to show up in force on the 22nd (it is the only item on the agenda so get there at 9:00AM) to show the Commissioners we are watching.


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