More than four years after the board of supervisors unanimously approved the Alon Bakersfield Crude Flexibility Project, supervisors voted unanimously to cancel the project. The plan proposed to bring two trains filled with crude oil into Bakersfield on a daily basis.
Tom Frantz, president of the Association of Irritated Residents, and an executive with the local Sierra Club chapter, helped lead an effort to sue the county shortly after the plan was approved.
“Kern county is not going to have two crude oil trains barreling into town every day,” he said. “I think we’re better off without those trains coming here…We knew from news reports that this type of crude oil is highly explosive. Huge explosion had taken place in 2013 in Quebec, killed 57 people, and destroyed 30 buildings or more.”
Franz says he was concerned, in part, because of the route, which was supposed to go through urban areas like Tehachapi and Downtown Bakersfield directly across the street from Bakersfield High School.
The train’s final destination would have been at the Alon-USA Bakersfield Refinery. Leaders with the refinery pushed for approval the project in 2014. In a statement released on its website, a representative said the project would have brought roughly 900 jobs to the local economy, and would have supplied more fuel on a daily basis, including 17,00 barrels of gasoline and 29 thousand barrels of diesel and jet fuel.
Frantz, who also is a farmer from Shafter, said the cons outweigh the benefits.
“We’re working hard to try to improve our air quality. This is one small part of that,” he said. “We can have more high tech jobs. We can have a thriving economy here that’s not just based on agriculture and oil. There’s other ways to make money.”