California officials deny Exxon’s request to truck crude stranded after Plains pipeline breach

HOUSTON — Officials in Santa Barbara County, California have denied Exxon Mobil’s request for expedited permission to truck oil along a coastal highway following a pipeline spill that left the company’s Santa Ynez processing plant with no outlet for its crude.

The situation doesn’t meet requirements for emergency consideration, wrote Dianne Black, the county’s assistant planning and development director. She told Exxon Mobil this week that it can apply through the customary permit process that includes environmental review, compliance with ordinances and policies and a public hearing.

Following a May 19 rupture along an onshore pipeline owned by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, the only line carrying oil from the Santa Ynez plant, Exxon Mobil cut production from 30,000 barrels per day to 10,000 barrels per day. Despite the slowdown, it estimates its onsite storage will reach capacity in less than a month, and Plains All American has not said when its pipeline will return to operation.

Exxon Mobil asked to run up to eight trucks per hour, seven days a week and 24 hours a day until the Plains line is back in service. Each truck would carry 6,720 gallons of oil.

Black rejected that application June 9. The decision on the expedited permit is final and not subject to appeal.

Richard Keil, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said the company had not yet decided if it would pursue a permit through the conventional process.

“We’re reviewing all our options,” he said. “We haven’t made any determination on next steps.”

Plains All American’s on-scene coordinator, Patrick Hodgins, told the Associated Press Wednesday that the cost of cleaning up the spill has reached $62 million so far, and that costs are running at $3 million a day.

The ruptured pipeline leaked up to 101,000 gallons of crude. About 21,000 gallons entered a storm drain and washed out to the Pacific Ocean off Santa Barbara County.

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