Submission Number: UBR-DEIS-00399 -- Oral Comment at Public Meeting
Received: 12/3/2020 12:00:00 AM
Commenter: Darrell Fordham
Organization: Argyle Wilderness Preservation Alliance
Initiative: Uinta Basin Railway EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
Hi, this is actually Darrell Fordham.
Not William Reese.
Hi, thank you.· My name is Darrell Fordham.· I've participated in each of the five
prior online public comment meetings.· I've listened to many who are in support of this project and listened to many more who are opposed to it.· Those who are in favor of it have touted economic growth and a Field-of-Dreams mentality, that somehow if we build it all of the Uinta Basin's economic woes will be a thing of the past.
I also note that no one who has spoken in favor of the project stands to lose anything.· It is easy to support a project that doesn't directly negatively affect you or impact your own property, way of life, happiness or quiet enjoyment.· So many who have spoken in favor of the project have stated that they are life-long Uinta Basin residents.· What I find curious is that these same individuals, while touting alleged economic growth and falsely claiming that all sorts of diverse industries will move into the area if the railway is built, at the same time deride, disparage and belittle anyone who does not live in the basin, even going so far as to say that anyone who is not a full-time Uinta Basin resident doesn't deserve to
have a say in this project and should "get lost."
How are you going to attract new businesses and the required influx of population with such an attitude of people you label as outsiders?· How many of you who support this project have actually read the draft EIS?· Did you skip over Chapter 6?· Or are you just simply choosing to ignore it completely?
Chapter 6 identifies the short-term and the long-term affects of this project, most of which are identified as being irreversible.· Some of these include permanent lands, productivity losses for public recreation, wildlife habitat, agriculture and grazing, including permanent loss of irrigated crop lands and severance of private land parcels.· Permanent reduction
of water resources due to water use during construction and permanent operations, permanent loss of wetland functions and values, permanent alteration of surface
water flow and flood plains needed to convey flood waters due to as many as 506 the stream crossings and as many as 59 stream realignments.
Short- and long-term impacts on vegetation, fish and wildlife resources, habitat loss, alteration and fragmentation for wildlife resulting in an increased mortality, barriers to wildlife movement, impacts on fish populations and decreases in breeding success.
Permanent loss of existing habitat to a number of animal and plant species, including many
federal endangered species, irretrievable commitment of materials to build the track structure, irretrievable commitment of ground water and surface water resources,
irreversible changes to wetlands, irreversible removal and alteration of vegetation and wildlife habitat.
Increased accessibility to wind and water erosion and irreversible loss of soil product activity, irreversible use of nonrenewable fossil fuels, irreversible loss of cultural resources to include archeological sites, tribal resources and build resources, irreversible loss of scientifically important fossils and paleontological resources, permanent and irreversible negative changes to the permanent landscape, permanent and irreversible negative changes to the visual quality of the surrounding rural landscape.
I have more, but I'll suspend.
Hi, thank you.· I appreciate the opportunity to just finish my comments.· I just like to make one clarification in regards to Mr. Stangel's comments. The money is only going to go back to the CIB, that $27.9 million, if construction actually commences on this railway.
I've read the contract that he references, and there are no guarantees that that money will ever be repaid, especially if this railway doesn't get built.· They flat out gambled the public's money on this because Drexel Hamilton and all the private companies were unwilling to put their own money up to plan this project.
And then to reference my previous comments, listing all of the permanent and irreversible impacts that will accompany this project, essentially what the Seven County Coalition and what the Uinta Basin residents are saying, is that all of these impacts don't matter.· The profits and enrichment of private oil companies and wealthy oil executives are more important than these permanent and irreversible impacts.· Making rich oil companies richer is more important than the lives, properties, farms, ranches and quiet enjoyment of everyone who is in the path of the railway.· Our concerns and our rights don't matter. I for one call BS on such notions.
Profitability of private companies should not come at the massive expense of private individuals, the environment, wildlife, endangered plants, et cetera.
And then, referencing the trucking in the Uinta Basin and the associated pollution, how do you guys think that the oil is going to get to the train? It's not going to levitate there.· It's going to be trucked to the trains.· And if oil production increases four times what it is now, that means four times the amount of trucks on the roads and the highways in the basin.· The only trucks that are going to come off the roads from this project being built are the few that go from Duchesne to Wellington to the current transloading facility down there.
I'm also -- you know, if you spent a billion-and-a-half dollars on economic growth of other types, what would the Uinta Basin look like?· It certainly wouldn't -- would have much more diversity than this billion-and-a-half dollars is going to create.
As far as other businesses coming in, I'm a business owner myself.· I truck a dozen semi loads of products in for my business every year.· It doesn't come by rail because it's not cheaper to ship it by rail, which is the reason that the rail hasn't made price boom with other industries --
-- and it is not going to do it for the Uinta Basin either. You guys are being sold a bill of goods on the backs of -- of public monies to benefit private oil companies.· It's only going to create bigger booms, sure, and also much, much, bigger busts.· You really need to think about this and look at the complete picture of this project.· Thank you.
Just one final comment. I echo what Julie just said.· You know, we're not opposed to economic growth in the basin, and we're not opposed to a railway.· Our biggest frustration is that we were never involved in the process of the study of these routes and of possible alternatives.· All three of these routes now go through our canyon and through our community.· And they've been literally just shoved down our throats.· And, you know, if the Seven County Coalition had been open and honest and upfront from the beginning and if they had brought potentially affected landowners into the process and gave us a seat at the table instead of doing all of this planning and having all their meetings behind closed doors where the public wasn't permitted to participate, you know, we would have a different out look on this.· But the fact is that they've done everything they could to shut us out of the process, to limit our voices.· And, you know, at this point, we feel like we have no other alternative but to oppose this railway entirely because our voices haven't been heard.· Our concerns haven't been addressed, and they're just shoving this down our throat through the middle of our community.· And that's where our frustration and our heartburn comes.
It's not that we don't feel for the people in the basin and your economy and your families and, you know, we -- we don't have any benefit to -- to the basin's economy not growing and prospering and succeeding.· You know, we support a significant portion of those communities with our tax dollars that we pay out there, again, for no services.· So, you know, this -- this process could have been handled totally differently.· But frankly, the Seven County Coalition has hid and lied and misled the public to garner support and they just haven't been truthful about this project from the very beginning.
You know, I've been to 30-plus meetings regarding this project.· I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours researching this project, going to all the Seven County Coalition meetings, listening to them, going to all the STB meetings.
You know, our concerns are being ignored. Nobody is working with us to find a resolution to find another route around our community.· And that's the problem that we have with this railroad.·Thank you.