Submission Number: UBR-DEIS-00451-0064 

Received: 1/27/2021 12:00:00 AM
Commenter: Marv Poulson
Organization: 
State: Utah

Agency: STB
Initiative: Uinta Basin Railway EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
Submission Text
There is only one clear option. The no-action alternative must be the out come for the proposed Uinta Basin Railway to prevent devastation to critical plant habitat for at least 2 species of great concern not specifically reported inventoried in this shallowly executed process that fail to meet the essentials under NEPA. The proposed railway would do irreparable harm to our region's air, water, land, wildlife and vulnerable plant species and must not be built. This draft environmental impact statement totally fails at what it's supposed to do: assess the harm this oil railway could have on the environment, wildlife, vulnerable plant species, and nearby communities. The new oil production resulting from the railway expansion - potentially four times the current amount - will contribute irreversibly to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Our climate is already at a tipping point, so we need to sharply reduce fossil fuel use instead of expanding it. The railway's emissions will also further pollute the air in the Uinta Basin in Utah, which already exceeds federal standards because of existing oil and gas development. Because no mitigation strategy is offered to offset the toxic environmental effects of increased oil production stimulated by the proposed project, the draft EIS fails under NEPA requirements. Traversing roadless areas, steep canyons and rugged terrain, the railway will degrade more than 10,000 acres of habitat for migratory wildlife and will harm important habitat needed by the rare greater sage grouse and the endangered Barnaby ridge-cress. There is no specific inventory reported in this Draft EIS, representing a fatal deficiency for the accuracy of the document. The complete lack of documenting cumulative local and regional impacts represents a deficiency that unless fully addressed must result in the no-action alternative. The preferred project route would run almost the entire length of Utah's Indian Canyon Creek, crossing and degrading more than 400 streams and important wetlands along the Price River - harming the semi-arid state's precious perennial waterways. In Colorado, the project could mean reopening a rail line through scenic Tennessee Pass, despoiling scenic lands and wildlife habitat to get oil trains to the Gulf Coast. Mile-long oil trains could rip through sensitive areas like Browns Canyon, a rugged 22,000-acre national monument designated in 2015 to protect one of the wildest stretches of the Arkansas River. Finally the Uinta Basin Railway would harm people who live and recreate in both states. Landowners in Utah's Argyle Canyon and nearby off-grid canyon communities fear the disruptive noise, traffic delays, and clouds of diesel smoke oil trains will bring along the proposed routes - not to mention the significant potential for accidents, derailments, spills and even sparks that could ignite disastrous wildfires. And people in Colorado won't escape the air pollution drifting downwind from Uinta Basin, even as the railway rips through a national monument and other scenic areas supporting outdoorsy tourism many locals rely on for their livelihood. This Draft Environmental Impact statement is one of the most shallow, incomplete, and factually deficient I have ever encountered. That alone should disqualify the project on its face. It's as though the principals pushing this economically flawed rail project assume some right to proceed in spite of its gross deficiencies. This project is an unacceptable threat to the health, safety and well-being of wildlife, vulnerable plant species, humans and the planet. The only viable option is the no-action alternative.