Report Exposes Misuse of $109 Million in Public Funds for Fossil Fuel Projects
UPHE is part of the Utah Clean Infrastructure Coalition. The Coalition held a press conference and released a report early last week, showing Utah’s Permanent Community Impact Fund Board has funneled more than $109 million in public money to projects that promote or expand fossil fuel extraction, in violation of the federal Mineral Leasing Act.
The report also documents that basic infrastructure projects in rural communities are going unfunded while Utah leaders use federal lease revenues and royalties to help the fossil fuel industry, including a proposed oil railway and oil refinery. As a result, small towns, cities and special improvement districts in Utah have requested funding for projects that have not yet been funded; including water and sewer services, recreation centers, road improvements and public safety equipment.
The misuse of millions of dollars by the Community Impact Fund Board, intended by law, to help communities being affected by the dirty fossil fuel industry is reprehensible and illegal. These funds should be used to help local communities who have been negatively impacted by the extraction industry and not used to double down on a polluting industry impacting peoples’ health and contributing to climate change.
Oil, gas and coal companies pay the federal government for the right to develop federally owned minerals on public lands and pay royalties for any minerals they extract. Congress intended this money to be used to help rural communities experiencing rapid growth and infrastructure challenges. The influx of new workers and increased drilling and mining take a toll on communities.
Utah is responsible for allocating the money to affected communities. A large portion is managed by the governor-appointed Permanent Community Impact Fund Board, which is composed of six locally elected officials and five representatives of relevant state agencies.
A 2020 report from Utah’s Office of the Legislative Auditor General raised serious concerns about the Community Impact Fund Board, including improper funding of economic development projects.
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