News & Reviews News Wire Supreme Court to review decision blocking Uinta Basin project

Supreme Court to review decision blocking Uinta Basin project

By Trains Staff | June 24, 2024

Appeals court overturned STB approval on environmental grounds

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Map showing proposed rail route in Utah
The planned route for the proposed Uinta Basin Railway.  The Supreme Court has agreed to review a decision blocking construction of the rail line. STB Office of Environmental Analysis

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to review the appeals court ruling blocking construction of the Uinta Basin Railway, the Associated Press reports.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last year struck down Surface Transportation Board approval of the 88-mile rail project in a remote portion of eastern Utah. The court’s ruling said the STB’s approval was “arbitrary and capricious” for failing to consider impacts such as the larger environmental impacts of the drilling and refining of the oil to be transported by the rail line [see “Federal court strikes down approval …,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 18, 2023]. That decision sent the matter back to the STB for a new review.

But the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, the government group backing the project, petitioned the court to review the case in March. The group’s petition says courts of appeal have split on the question of considering downstream effects in an environmental review, and asked the Supreme Court to decide “Whether the National Environmental Policy Act requires an agency to study environmental impacts beyond the proximate effects of the action over which the agency has regulatory authority” [see “Organization behind Uinta Basin project asks Supreme Court to review decision …,” News Wire, March 13, 2024].

A number of briefs were subsequently filed in favor of a review on behalf of the Ute Indian Tribe of the Unitah and Ouray Reservation; the state of Utah; NACCO Natural Resources Corp., a mining company; the American Forest Resource Council, a logging trade organization; and the Utah AFL-CIO, among others. In opposition were the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, and a group including Eagle County, Colo., and several environmental organizations, both of which argued that there was no fundamental disagreement among the courts of appeal that “an agency need not consider environmental consequences it lacks the statutory and regulatory authority to prevent.”

As is customary, the court simply announced it had granted the petition, with no other details. It will hear arguments for the case in its 2024-25 term, which begins in October.

9 thoughts on “Supreme Court to review decision blocking Uinta Basin project

  1. Colorado used to be a state with common sense. We had a Democrat governor and Republican statehouse/senate.
    With the tidal wave of new residents the state is turning into California East.
    I talked with a co-worker 20 something from Boulder about energy. I had the opinion he had no idea where electricity is produced. To him, electric cars are great because there is no exhaust, and the electricity to charge the cars is magically inside the wires.
    The state politicians patted themselves with a new law, no lawn mowing with gas mowers/weed eaters. Crime is terrible, homeless issues, downtown Denver has a 47% vacancy rate, housing prices are approaching California prices but thank you politicians form protecting us from the evil lawn mowers.
    Will be an ex Colorado resident.

  2. Banning all carbon based products because of their “downstream” POTENTIAL (not probability) to harm would reduce our country and its economy to the stone age and erase all the advances of the last 300 years. There would be no stores because there would be no trucks or trains to deliver the goods, nor vehicles to deliver people to buy items either. Flight (and ocean going vessels) by any means would be eliminated so no travel for business or pleasure. All packaging would have to be in glass or wood boxes which would also be restricted because it would take carbon based fuels to make or gather the raw materials. Even if you used solar or wind to make the power you would still need carbon based fuels to make the steel or aluminum or to mine the metals or refine the chemicals needed to make the solar panels and metal frames to hold them together. Also, it would require the elimination of paved roads, plastics for all facets of our society and the elimination of modern medicine and medical techniques that rely on carbon based materials for their creation. Plus much more stuff we enjoy and benefit from in a modern world (like computers and cell phones) because our world is a carbon based world and there is nothing that can be done to change that.

    Incrementally minimize, maybe. Eliminate: Impossible! And to accept the human death and suffering that would go along with such a drastic change: Incomprehensible!

  3. As a resident of Colorado, I agree with Mr Landey. But I think your list is incomplete. We should also ban tourism and close Ski resorts. All the pollution caused by rental cars driving all over the state, especially to our mountains with their scenic beauty. Maybe we should stop all the building as well. All that pollution caused by construction equipment. And finally, we should elect people who have some common scenes to any public office.

    1. The first person I ever met who opposed fossil fuels was a Colorado resident. He had flown to Wisconsin because his brother was in a Milwaukee hospital, which is where I met him.

      I found the visitor to be a delightful and highly intelligent man — until he ranted about fossil fuels. I started to ask him how he got from home to DEN, from DEN to MKE, and from MKE to the hospital. But even I know when to bite my tongue, so I just smiled.

  4. Charles, Totally agree.

    You have whittled it down to a very simple precept: Put Up or Shut Up. Sad thing about liberals is they want to tell you HOW to live, but they don’t AGREE to live under the same rules.

    Just SAD, SAD

    1. Yes as a former Republican state legislator from Colorado told me once when I lived near Denver (Parker) and asked him about his thoughts on environmental regulation in Colorado, he said, “… the environmental lobby in Colorado wants to eliminate all new SUV’s and Pick-up trucks in the state because of their higher pollution rates rates, but that’s okay because they already have their own SUV’s and Pick-up Trucks. They just don’t want anyone else to have them…” Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir and others who wanted to protect the wild places didn’t even believe in that totality of environmentalism. They believed in planned multiple use; Man living with the environment, not only exploiting it. The new age of environmentalism any more only sees one side of the argument with no room for compromise. That is the same problem we have in Washington, D.C. Its a “my way or the highway” mentality that leaves no place for common sense views. That is what is wrong with this country and situations like what is good for the people of the Uintah Basin versus what is good for some special interest group elsewhere that has no skin in the game except to protest, protest, protest, which may be their right, but where does it stop. Only when both sides agree to put down their cudgels and agree to a compromise that is good for everyone… Compromise does not have to be a sign of weakness.

  5. SCOTUS will over turn this. Using Colorado’s logic, then airplanes from out of state can’t land there, nor trucks drive there. Going even further, you could say fertilizers for farm use couldn’t be transported.

    Ahem, tell Eagle County Colorado that they should be banned from burning local firewood in the winter time. The effluent from their fireplaces would get exported via the wind and pollute Kansas. Hey Kansas AG, want to make a name for yourself? Sue Colorado for pollution exportation. This is how ridiculous it will become until someone puts a stop to it.

    “The road of good intentions leads to chaos”

    1. To me, it’s very very simple. Anyone opposed to fossil fuels should stop using them.

      Anyone in Colorado opposed to extracting fossil fuels in Utah, should petition the Colorado state government to shut down the roads and the Denver Airport.

      Then Colorado residents should stop heating their homes.

      Colorado fancies itself as some sort of a green paradise. Sorry, folks, I’ve spent a whole lot of time there. The state consumes just as much resources (or more) and creates just as much emissions (or more) as any other place anywhere. In Colorado a store can’t provide a bag for your purchases (no paper, no plastic) but the Denver airport consumes as much fossil fuel as half the rest of the universe.

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