Glenwood Springs, Pitkin County joins Eagle County in opposing Uinta Railway approval | So Good News


Glenwood Springs and Pitkin County have signed on to a petition to support the repeal of a federal decision authorizing the construction of the Uinta Railway.

The proposed railroad would transport crude oil from the Uintah Basin in Utah over over 100 miles of rail—some of which passes along I-70 and the Colorado River corridor. It will be operated and built by the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition – a group of seven counties in Eastern Utah.

Eagle County filed a petition in February asking the federal Surface Transportation Board to reconsider its December 2021 decision allowing the railroad to move forward.

In his petitionthe county, along with the Center for Biodiversity — a nonprofit in Tucson, AZ — alleges that STB failed to take a “hard look” at the “environmental effects of

The railroad’s significant increase in rail traffic and potential for accidents on the existing Union Pacific main line between Kyune, Utah and Denver, Colorado.

The amicus brief filed by Glenwood Springs and Pitkin County, along with eight other local governments across Colorado, allege that the STB did not take enough account of the environmental impacts of the railroad.

Glenwood Springs city officials are concerned that the number of crude oil cars traveling on the Union Pacific Railway line will increase dramatically. They claim that up to 185,000 crude oil cars will be permitted to use the Union Pacific line per year, which they say is a 20-fold increase from 2015.

Mayor Jonathan Godes also said in a statement that STB’s assessment that the wildfire risk in the downline area was not significant “ignores real-world evidence.” The map points to the damage done by the 2020 Grizzly Creek fire and subsequent mudslides in 2021, caused by the fire’s burn scars and torrential rain. The mudslides closed the highway for several weeks.

The brief also claims that the decision did not adequately address the risk of derailment — risks that come both from the size of the oil tankers and the mountainous terrain the cars would pass through, such as Glenwood Canyon.

“As the Grizzly Creek Fire shows, a single spark can rage

Glenwood Canyon,” the amici wrote. “But the decision in question involves more than just a spark; the release of highly flammable crude oil could devastate this unique region for decades. The failure to analyze — let alone mitigate — this risk is arbitrary and capricious.”

As of Monday, representatives from STB have not yet responded to Aspen Public Radio’s request for comment.


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