SALT LAKE CITY― A Utah District Court judge will hear arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by conservation groups challenging the misuse of public funds for fossil fuel projects, including the railroad project. iron from the Uinta Basin.
In August 2020, conservation groups sued the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board for awarding nearly $28 million in public funds to the 88-mile railroad project. The railroad, which could facilitate a quadrupling of oil production from the Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah, would transport Utah crude through Colorado to refineries on the Gulf Coast .
What: Arguments before Utah District Court Judge Adam T. Mow on the Center for Biological Diversity’s motion for summary judgment in its challenge to the Impact Fund Board’s misuse of public money permanent community
When: Wednesday, May 25, 1:30 p.m. MST
Or: Judge Mow’s Courtroom, Utah District Court, 450 S. State St., Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114
Who: Center attorney Wendy Park will be available for comment after the hearing
The Uinta Basin Railway project would spur new drilling and fracking in the region, damaging roads, straining public facilities and services, worsening the climate crisis and harming public health. The railroad, along with access roads, well pads, pipelines, and increased trucking, would also fragment wildlife habitat and put a strain on precious water supplies.
State and federal laws require that these public funds be used to support projects that help communities deal with the impacts of mining development on federal public lands. But the council transferred nearly $28 million to the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition to move the railroad forward.
A 2020 report from Utah’s Office of the Legislative Auditor General raised serious concerns about the Community Impact Board, including improper funding of economic development projects. The audit highlighted the Uinta Basin Railway as one of the projects demonstrating the need to improve council policies and practices.