The dangers of moving oil

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An Exxon tanker truck makes a refueling stop at an Exxon station in Arlington, Va., Friday, Jan. 30, 2009. Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday reported a profit of $45.2 billion…

gaviota-state-park-aerial-viewPretty nice stretch of road, right? Exxon would like to use it to ship oil.

Yesterday an emergency application was submitted to Santa Barbara County by Exxon Mobil. Now that the Plains All American pipeline is shut down after last month’s oil spill, Exxon is asking permission to truck oil from the storage tank at Las Flores Canyon, along Highway 101 to Nipomo in San Luis Obispo. Exxon says they’re running out of space and lowering their production rate could lead to safety risks.

Normally, applications like this one require close public and environmental scrutiny, but since it’s an “emergency,” that process is eliminated. The application is now in the hands of the county’s Planning and Development director Glenn Russell, who will make the ultimate decision to grant or deny the request. The biggest questions are what warrants an emergency permit, and how willing is the county to possibly cause another spill.

Whether Russell likes it or not, he’s been hearing from Linda Krop at the Environmental Defense Center. She’s the chief counsel there, and she spoke with KCRW’s Kathryn Barnes earlier today.

“There’s risks with a pipeline, and it’s very tragic what we’re dealing with right now. With truck transportation it would actually probably be even worse, believe it or not.”

– Linda Krop, Environmental Defense Center