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Court Keeps Controversial Oil Terminal Open

PHOTO: The Bakersfield Crude Terminal is the subject of a lawsuit by environmental groups, and was recently cited by the EPA. It is owned by the same company which owns a pipeline that recently failed near Santa Barbara, spilling 100,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific. Photo credit: Elizabeth Forsyth/Earthjustice.
PHOTO: The Bakersfield Crude Terminal is the subject of a lawsuit by environmental groups, and was recently cited by the EPA. It is owned by the same company which owns a pipeline that recently failed near Santa Barbara, spilling 100,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific. Photo credit: Elizabeth Forsyth/Earthjustice.
June 8, 2015

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A judge has refused to close down a controversial oil terminal near Bakersfield in Kern County, denying a preliminary injunction sought by environmental groups challenging permits for the facility. The terminal went on-line in December.

Earthjustice attorney Elizabeth Forsyth says the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District shouldn't have approved the Bakersfield Crude Terminal without first doing an environmental review, as required by California law.

"This terminal has major public health impacts from the air pollution that it'll emit," she says. "Carrying large amounts of crude oil can carry significant risks. We've seen this in recent, catastrophic derailments, like the horrible disaster in Canada which killed 47 people."

The terminal is slated to bring in 168,000 gallons of crude oil a day – nine percent of California's oil imports. The oil would then be moved by pipeline to multiple California refineries.

Forsyth says that part is risky, too.

"Plains All American Pipeline, which owns the facility we're challenging, is the same company whose pipeline recently released over 100,000 gallons of oil into the California coast," she says.

The lawsuit is still moving forward, and will be heard in six months. Meanwhile, the EPA has cited the Bakersfield-area terminal, saying it should have been designated a major polluter.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA