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A Los Angeles judge this week refused to overturn a county’s decision prohibiting Exxon from using tanker trucks to move crude oil from offshore platforms to refineries after the rupture of a pipeline seven years ago.
The pipeline, near Santa Barbara, ruptured in 2015, causing a substantial spill, after which it was suspended. However, it has not been fixed, either, due to strong local opposition to all pipelines, so Exxon tried to turn to tanker trucks as an alternative means of transporting crude oil from the place of production to the place of processing.
Yet in early 2022 the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors denied the supermajor a trucking permit, citing evidence that tanker trucks are dangerous.
Now, Judge Dolly Gee has upheld the decision of the board of supervisors, saying Exxon had no vested or fundamental right to use tanker trucks for transporting its oil, Reuters reported.
Exxon has stated that the right to use tanker trucks was essential for restarting three offshore platforms and an onshore processing facility that was shut down after the spill. The three platforms produced some 30,000 barrels of crude daily.
The company has also argued that the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors’ decision represented an unconstitutional taking of Exxon’s property. That claim and others related to the constitution will be looked into by the court later.
Environmentalist organizations welcomed the judge’s ruling on the tanker trucks.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Santa Barbara Planning Commission denied Pacific Pipeline Corporation, in charge of the Pipeline 901 which ruptured in 2015, the right to upgrade the infrastructure, even though the upgrade was not a preparatory move for putting it back into operation.
Pacific Pipeline Corporation, an Exxon affiliate, stated it needed to replace valves on the pipeline in line with state mandates for installing the best technology available in pipelines. However, the commission denied the plan amid more local anti-pipeline protests.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com