Proponents of the proposed Uinta Basin Railway oil train claim it would allow the oil industry to quadruple petroleum extraction in the area. Residents are concerned their property will be seized by eminent domain in order to serve private industry rather than the common good. Many have been notified that surveys are already planned.
Before their vote to fund the oil train proposal, the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board heard Utah's Assistant Attorney General express strong concerns about the potential misuse of public funds. Disregarding these concerns, the board proceeded to give $21.4 million toward the development of the Uinta Basin Railway. This oil train subsidy is questioned as illegal use of Mineral Lease Funds which are intended to be spent helping communities recover from impacts of mineral extraction. The public money being spent to push this project through the regulatory process is typically allocated to things like community centers, roads and water treatment facilities. According to the applicant, the train would primarily benefit the petroleum industry—the wealthiest private industry on the planet. The Uinta Basin Railway oil train would cost an estimated 1.2 - 1.5 billion dollars to build.
The oil train would exacerbate climate change, degrade air and water quality, and damage public and private lands. It would permanently endanger the communities along it's path. From methane releases at the extraction sites in Utah, to the fuels burned to transport it, to pollution at refining sites (likely in the Gulf of Mexico) and where it is burned, to the ultimate climate impacts, this oil train is a reckless misuse of public money.
The Surface Transportation Board, the lead agency working to permit the oil train, has released their scope of work document - December 9, 2019
Scope of Work for Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Colorado River Connected published a thorough background and review of the proposed oil train.
The Uintah Basin Railway: a fossil fuel disaster
Salt Lake Tribune, by Brian Maffley - June 13, 2019
Disputed rail project seeking to ship eastern Utah oil to more lucrative markets clears hurdle with $21 million funding boost
“The CIB is failing the public trust in the administration of this money,” Sarah Stock - Program Director, Living Rivers
Visit Stop the Uinta Basin Railway for more information and actions.
The Surface Transportation Board's Scope of Work document has been published, which identifies issues to be analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). When the DEIS is released, a public comment period will open. Check back for your 'official' opportunity to give input!
Right now, you can still send questions and comments. Importantly, the Scope of Work does NOT make it clear that the Environmental Impact Statement will consider the full climate impacts of the additional petroleum that would be extracted as a result of the oil train. The full climate impacts of the quadrupled oil exploitation need to be assessed, including:
- methane and other pollution at the site of extraction
- transportation to the Gulf of Mexico or other locations, and the impacts of refining it
- shipping to final destinations in Asia and elsewhere
- burning at final destinations
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 855.826.7596 to ask questions or comment. Please note that this contact information is for the contractor working for the Surface Transportation Board, and an official public comment period is not currently open.
These organizations are working to stop the proposed oil train. Write and ask how you can help their efforts.