Submission Number: UBR-DEIS-00297 -- Oral Comment at Public Meeting 

Received: 11/19/2020 12:00:00 PM
Commenter: Mike Stengel

Agency: STB
Initiative: Uinta Basin Railway EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
Submission Text
Hi.· Thank you.· I appreciate being here.


So I wanted to just add some comments in.· I live in the Uinta Basin, unlike some that are commenting or may have commented. · · · · ·My experience with the Uinta Basin started about 9 years ago.· My wife and I are originally from California, and we moved to the Uinta Basin.· I took on an oil field job, and shortly thereafter left the field after a year and a half and went to go work in the real estate industry. · · · · ·I have gotten to know some wonderful people both in the oil and gas industry that provide for their
families as well as those that are looking to find a better way of life. · · · ·

The Uinta Basin and the mountains and the beauty and the majestic views that are here, everything that is being described is real.· It's a wonderful place to live and raise a family.· It's kind of like 50 years ago, maybe longer, from where Salt Lake or even Heber was. · · · · ·

There are beautiful parts of the basin.· Also, there's a lot of rocks and terrain and some areas are desert so that the terrain changes throughout the basin. You have the wilderness forest areas, and you have just a lot of rocks and dirt.· · · · ·

I have always been proud to have a real estate license and defending home ownership and land as well. And I believe that this proposed rail project is definitely needed for the Uinta Basin, especially when it comes to providing alternative jobs, not only just in the oil providing what -- the means they're talking about with the oil and gas, but also the means of providing raw goods -- raw materials and finished goods and product going out.· It opens it up for other industries. · · · · ·

There are other counties, cities, states that have railroads, even smaller towns than ours that have railroads, and they do quite well.· Here, it's about 100 years overdue.· And so I'm grateful that the Seven Counties Infrastructure Coalition has presented this project, that the EIS has been -- that the EIS is in this process of being completed.· And that I look forward to the rail project going to completion, which will mean jobs for families in, not only just oil and gas but a diversity of jobs out here, which is very welcome out here.· · · · ·

People, the residents here, want to see opportunity.· They want to see -- they don't want to have the ups and downs of the economy, the hard crashes and the booms that happen which make it very difficult financially for families.· · · · ·

I'm grateful for Mike McKee with the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition.· I've gotten to know him really well, as well as others -- Ron Winterton, who supports this.· Even our Spencer Cox has come out and supported it, and grateful for that.· We have support from a state level, from a county level, and the cities as well that are getting prepared for this growth. · · · · ·

So I think it's a good project.· And I think that just reviewing the different routes that are being reviewed through the EIS as well as the mitigating reasons or mitigating -- mitigation they're working on to mitigate the impact to the environment, I think it's done -- being done responsibly.· And I welcome additional feedback.


I'm looking forward to hearing other people share their thoughts and feelings.· I think it's a good dialogue for us to have, and I think it's
definitely welcome.· So thank you.· I'm done.


Thank you.· I appreciate the opportunity have follow-up on this. · · · · ·I wanted to just quickly add one of the things that we've had as a great discussion within the Uinta Basin is -- I hold a weekly radio program, a local radio program on the AM/FM bands.· We've had quite a number of guests on.· And the local support for this project is overwhelming, to say the least, with the public.· And it's something that would help not only the frac sand and the oil and everything everybody has talked about before, but I wanted to spend just a little bit more time talking about the economic impact if we don't do anything. · · · · ·

The roads are going to have to continue to be maintained.· There's going to be additional trucks on the roads in addition to what we already have.· The infrastructure is not there to sustain and support the growth that's expected. · · · · ·Additionally, the railroad opportunity provides a little bit of what I talked about earlier, it provides a lot of opportunity for other industries to come in.· We don't have that opportunity right now because the rail isn't here.· The cost of goods and services here, commonly people refer to it as "basin prices."· There's an expense that we pay that's even over gas.· We ship our oil out to Salt Lake, they refine it, and they charge us more for gas to bring the gasoline out for our petro stations. · · · · ·

So there's a lot of things to consider, and not just simply look at the environmental impact, but also look at the human and financial impact as well, which the environmental impact study is largely about what mitigation needs to be happening as far as if there's an economic hit -- or not economic, but an environmental hit, how to mitigate that. ·But a lot of focus should also be on the economics of doing nothing.· If nothing is done, we're going to have the same status quo. · · · · ·

As a real estate agent, I have sat across from families that have lost their homes to foreclosure and are considering short sales and losing their homes because of a market crash.· This may not be something that happens all the time in Salt Lake or Colorado or Wyoming or even California, but it happens quite regularly here.· About every five years, there's a crash, and it's a hard crash.· And this project will allow for that to level off.· It will allow other industries to come in. · · · · ·

We welcome all industries.· If there's other energy options that are available that want to come out, if they want to bring solar and wind, if they want to bring other, what they call "green" or "renewable energies," I think the environment that's here as far as the people that I talk to, they're open to all options. · · · · ·But that's not what's being discussed here. It's, We need to try to kill the rail for environmental reasons or for, you know, You don't have the right paperwork or filing information, or whatever it may be.
I think that those arguments are important to have, and I think it's good to have the dialogue.· But I also think there needs to be an understanding that the economic impact to these tens of thousands of families that live here are greatly impacted because of decisions of doing nothing.· We already know what nothing, doing nothing does.· We have the last 100 years of very stagnate growth and lots of booms and crashes. · · · · ·So with that, I just wanted to add the additional comments, and I appreciate the additional time.


Thank you.· Appreciate it. I wanted to add a little bit of clarification, and I appreciate Darrell's comments.· Thank you. · · · · ·So as far as thinking it's a fallacy or things aren't going to happen, I personally know the saw mill owner in Duchesne, and they plan on loading up and using the railroad to ship their finished good products.· A lot of that will go to the mines, the local mines that are in Price and Helper.· So there is an industry for that.
· · · · ·As far as an opportunity for other things, competing for the Inland Port, as a hub for the Inland Port, allows the Uinta Basin to compete there.· So definitely an opportunity there as well. · · · · ·And then in regards to his comment about Delta. Delta is not the Uinta Basin.· Delta doesn't have the oil that the Uinta Basin has.· And that's an opportunity for us.· We welcome the additional traffic on the roads.· We welcome that because it means jobs for the families. · · · · ·

So I think that it's one thing to sit back when you're not in the basin and to say something like that, and then to live here and deal with the realities of it. And so definitely, you know, as far as the last comment about misinformation and lies and being careful for what you wish for, we do hope we do get this rail.· And I personally hope I do because it will benefit our family, our friends' families, the oil field workers that I've come to know and love, and the people that live here in the Uinta Basin.· So this will definitely help the basin and help the people that live here. · · · · ·And as far as outsiders, we're not fond of outsiders to begin with, with the basin.· It's kind of a basin thing.· But we welcome people that are here to visit our lovely sceneries and forests and the hunting, fishing, and camping that's available. · · · · ·But we need to do this.· This needs to happen. It's about time.· It's overdue.· So we look forward to the Uinta Basin rail project happening. · · · · ·So thank you for the additional comments.


Hi, there.· Thank you.· I wanted to -- I appreciate Darrell's comments and his feedback on that.· I think that when we -- there's a lot of emotion, I think, on both sides of the argument.· It's a lot like politics, if you will, just to use an example. · · · · ·I think that when we look at insider/outsider things, I don't think it's a they-versus-us thing. I think it's just an understanding of one side wants to be heard and so does the other side, the people that live here that have to deal with the effects of the market.
· · · · ·

When I speak, I speak on my behalf. · · · · ·Darrell, I'll specifically answer your response. I know you said you felt offended based on comments that I made.· I just want to make sure I clarify that when I was referring to an outsider, I'm not referring to somebody that lives here.· Obviously, if you have residence here, you have a voice, and your opinion
matters, and I appreciate your feedback. · · · · ·

So for that, those comments were not directly directed towards you.· It would be somebody that is not living here.· So I just want to add clarification to that. · · · · ·And opinion does matter as a landowner.· So I appreciate your comments and the opportunity to clarify that.· Thank you.