Phillips 66 agrees to drop lawsuit over oil trains to Nipomo refinery

Phillips 66 has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit challenging San Luis Obispo County’s denial of its plan to build a rail spur to transport crude oil to its Nipomo refinery, environmental groups said Monday.

The move was celebrated Monday by opponents, who had pleaded with officials to prevent an increase of oil-filled trains from rolling by their homes, schools and businesses with the potential for derailment.

“Hopefully that’s the final nail in the coffin of this three-and-a-half-year odyssey,” said Laurance Shinderman, a spokesman for the Mesa Refinery Watch Group, a grassroots group of residents who live near to the Santa Maria refinery.

According to county attorney Tim McNulty, a settlement has been reached, and if approved by the court, the county’s denial of the project will stand.

The settlement is expected to be filed in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Monday or Tuesday. Phillips 66 could not be reached for comment Monday morning.Phillips 66 sued the county after the Board of Supervisors in March upheld a Planning Commission decision to deny a permit to build a 1.3-mile rail spur that would allow the company to import 6.6 million gallons of crude oil by rail a week to its Santa Maria Refinery. The company argued that county staff wrongly interpreted a Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance regarding environmentally sensitive habitat area.

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