A reminder why not to pass the Uinta Basin Railway

An oil train along the already threatened Colorado River is a horrible idea.

Malin Moench, a UPHE member and Utah resident with a background in analyzing public utilities and logistics at the federal level, presents a compelling argument against the proposed Uinta Basin Railway in his op-ed published in the Denver Post. He highlights the recent tragic derailment near Pueblo, Colorado, involving hazardous materials, and underscores the inherent risks of transporting such materials by train. Moench points out that the potential railway would significantly increase the transportation of crude oil through Colorado, with the associated risks of derailments, wildfires, oil spills, and negative environmental impacts.

While acknowledging the historical mistreatment of the Ute Indian Tribe by the federal government, Moench contends that seeking federal financing for the railway to compensate for past injustices is not a valid justification for endangering Colorado’s environment and residents. He questions the claim that the oil trains would transport crude as a harmless solid, emphasizing that the choice of transportation method would likely be based on cost, with hot liquid being the more practical option due to the nature of Uinta waxy crude.

Utah should be focusing on ways to reduce fossil fuel extraction and consumption, not ramp them up. Photo by E P Kosmicki.

Moench also raises concerns about the potential increase in ozone levels resulting from expanded oil and gas activity in the Uinta Basin, which would negatively impact the health of residents in both Utah and Colorado. In conclusion, he argues that endangering the environment and public health is not an appropriate means of addressing past injustices, and urges reconsideration of the proposed railway in light of these serious concerns.

Because of a coalition of groups litigation, including UPHE, a Washington D.C. federal judge rejected the U.S. Surface Transportation Board’s approval of the proposed Uinta Basin Railway. The fight is not over though. 

Find Malin Moench’s full op-ed here.