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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Forest Service upholds decision on Uinta Basin Railway

Forest Service upholds decision on Uinta Basin Railway

By | July 8, 2022

Review was last major regulatory step for proposed 85-mile line in Utah

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Map showing proposed rail route in Utah
Map showing proposed rail route in Utah
The route of proposed Uinta Basin Railway. (STB Office of Environmental Analysis)

OGDEN, Utah — A U.S. Forest Service review has upheld a decision granting right-of-way to a portion of the Uinta Basin Railway project, the last major regulatory barrier to the proposed 85-mile line to serve oilfields in Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports several environmental groups had challenged the Forest Service’s decision to approve the railroad’s path through 12 miles of Utah’s Ashley National Forest. But in a six-page letter this week to an attorney representing the Center for Biological Diversity, Deputy Regional Forester Deborah Oakeson said that “the record supports permit issuance,” although it does have reservations about some aspects of the Surface Transportation Board’s characterization of federal agency responsibilities and the Final Environmental Impact Statement’s system for categorizing effects of the project.

The letter also reviews 18 specific concerns from the environmental groups, although Oakeson’s letter says many “are outside of the Forest Service’s decision space,” and concludes “the totality and essense of the reasonably foreseeable environmental effects were fully and clearly disclosed” in the environmental impact statement “regardless of how they were categorized.”

The STB approved the Uinta Basin project, which will connect oilfields to the national rail network at Kyune, Utah, in 2021 [see “STB clears path for Uinta Basin project,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 16, 2021]. The environmental groups are suing to block the decision by the STB and other federal entities, saying the board’s decision ignored the overall environmental impact of extracting and processing up to 350,000 barrels of crude oil a day [see “Environmental groups sue …,” News Wire, Feb. 14, 2022].

13 thoughts on “Forest Service upholds decision on Uinta Basin Railway

  1. Seems like a straw man argument given our furl problems presently, which are contrived for to pursue political end. Man has been blessed with the energy and components in oil . We must use it well

  2. 350,000 barrels of American crude may not move the average price at the pump in the US, but it will certainly help. It also has the potential to provide jobs to those living in the tribal lands shown on the map.

  3. The “green Nazis” never give up.
    Destroy the American economy so we can all live in caves and ride bicycles.

    1. Timothy: From a health and environmental perspective, things would be better if more of us rode bicycles more places.

      That said, if you disagree with environmentalist opposition to this new rail line, fine. However, to call them “green Nazis” is a gross distortion of history and trivalizes the suffering and deaths of millions at the hands of actual Nazis.

      1. Whatever you want to call them the environmentalists are certainly enabling and financing Putin’s war against Ukraine. Emerging market countries (Sri Lanka, Pakistan,…) are starting to collapse too as a result, unable to pay current prices for LNG and oil and food, and so millions of people will be greatly suffering.

        1. Robert: What you say about environmentalists in baloney. An American environmentalist who chooses to reduce energy consumption through weatherizing a home, using fans instead of air conditioning, driving a smaller car, or using public transportation or eliminate energy consumption by walking or bicycling is NOT financing Putin’s war against Ukraine.

          1. I was talking about the all the Greta Thunbergs in Europe and the the Biden administration who want to shut down oil and gas production, and block any new supplies. By forcing prices up and having left Europe with few alternatives to Russia’s oil and gas supplies they are in fact financing Putin’s invasion.

        2. That is the complete opposite of reality. Putin is primarily financed by oil and gas revenues. Environmentalists have been calling for the world to wean itself off oil and gas for many years now.

      2. Okay. How about ‘Green Fascists’ then?
        Look, basic economics and political logic will tell you that when you artificially lower the supply while demand stays steady or is rising, the costs will increase. This is the Green strategy – to make hydrocarbons artificially cost prohibitive and forcing everyone to use alternative energy sources. It’s the only way to make it happen b/c these new sources are just not financially viable otherwise.
        In the present, this artificial reduction of supply has increased the cost and value of the remaining supply. This in turn has essentially double the revenue that Russia is receiving for its hydrocarbon products, enriching the nation, and providing a massive financial windfall to Russia which it can and WILL spend to destroy Ukraine.
        Simple logic.

    1. Robert Ray: Your gymnastics in logic are unconvincing. The points made by Joshua Reynolds and myself still stand. Citizens who are reducing their use of fossil fuels along with government-led energy conservation policies and programs are by definition not forcing any prices up and, therefore, are not contributing to the financing of Putin’s invasion.

      As for the Biden administration, it recently allowed for more offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters over the next five years. Additionally, if you read the Trains article, you’d know that the US Forest Service approved the Uinta Basin Railway project, whose purpose is to transport petroleum projects. These actions hardly constitute shutting down the oil and gas industry.

      The oil industry is faring pretty well under the Biden administration. However, don’t take my word for it. See the following Forbes Magazine piece written by someone who does not seem particularly supportive of environmentalists’ goals or the Biden administration’s energy policies:

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2022/06/17/how-has-the-oil-industry-fared-under-president-biden/?sh=1218dca23890

      1. The Biden administration is only possibly planning for new offshore leases. During the first 1 1/2 years of the administration there have been ZERO new offshore leases. You might also remember on his first day Biden blocked the Keystone pipeline to deliver oil to the U.S. New regulatory rules from the administration will effectively block any new interstate pipelines (because they would increase global warming). The Biden administration is certainly looking at other regulatory actions to block oil and gas supplies in the U.S. (however increased production from the humanitarian regimes of Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran is greatly desired by Biden). There is actually NO substitute for oil and gas in most applications (airplanes are an obvious example).

  4. FWIW: The oil this area is exporting is not considered premium by any means. It is a paraffin like “waxy” oil that requires pre-treatment before transport. It fetches well below WTI in per barrel pricing.

    The issue is that the largest capacity to refine such oil resides in the Texas-Louisana Petro coast.

    This capacity to refine sub-standard oils is also why the Province of Alberta is so anxious to use CN and the future CPKC to take this oil to the petro coast and the maritimes (Irving).

    As for the environmentalism involved, it is the lack of compromise that give them a bad name that one could be associated. The USG and greens compromised wonderfully on the Alaska pipeline and the frozen tundra back in the 1970’s. But the art of compromise seems to be lost altogether. The response to any access to a natural resource is always an absolute “no”. The response is always that we should find someway to avoid it altogether and never use it to begin with. I never hear a green response anymore to proposals like this one that provide constructive ways the proposal can mitigate certain risks. Look at new technologies that help improve movement safety. It’s always a “No”. I never of any green entities doing any baseline research on how to improve environmental safety, its just always a “no”. If you ask them about this, they will say its the responsibility of the private sector to find ways to ablate those risks, not them. And this is a modern problem, this lack to work together.

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