UPHE takes on climate denial
UPHE has been rallying against the Uinta Basin Railway since the project’s conception. The goal of the railway is to increase oil production and output from Utah’s Uinta Basin area, and completely disregards the climate crisis that is so severely impacting life on the Wasatch Front. Regardless of increased wildfires, record-breaking heat and severe drought, this railway aims to quadruple oil extraction in the area.
Along with other environmental groups led by the Center for Biological Diversity, we are suing the Forest Service on their decision to allow this oil railway to move forward through public lands. “In July, when the Forest Service dismissed an objection to the Uinta Basin Railway filed by the petitioners late last year, the agency acknowledged that the project would increase nationwide greenhouse gas pollution by 0.8%” Kenny Stancil writes of the conflict.
This type of ambivalence and denial of the impact of fossil fuel extraction will have effects far beyond the health and wellbeing of Utahns. Colorado has actively opposed the railway as well, due to climate and environmental impact concerns as the railway passes through the state.
“An oil spill in the Colorado River headwaters would be catastrophic to our state’s water supplies, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation assets. In addition, an accident on the train line further increases the threat of wildfire ignition, particularly given severe drought conditions in the West. Given that many of the Colorado communities along the proposed train line are already recovering from extreme wildfires and managing unprecedented low water levels, these additional risks are unacceptable. Glenwood Canyon – which sits directly along the proposed railway route – has been grappling with severe flash flooding and mudslides that closed the interstate highway for weeks last year,” Colorado legislators wrote to the Biden administration in a letter earlier this year.
Approval of this oil railway is in direct contradiction of the Biden administration’s promises to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and take “bold actions to restore forests, improve resilience and address the climate crisis.”
Secretary Vilsack was right to call for bold climate action, but then he completely disregarded the urgent need to address the climate crisis and to protect this beautiful forest. Once again the public’s health and the environment take a back seat to business as usual for the oil and gas industry.