Glenwood Springs supports overturning the Uinta Basin Railway decision | So Good News

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Grizzly Creek burns scar the ridges above Glenwood Canyon as seen from the air Monday, Aug. 25, 2020. Eagle County opposes 100-car trains carrying waxy crude oil on railroads along the Colorado River, where in areas like Glenwood Canyon, the tracks are feet from the water .
Chelsea self/post independent

Glenwood Springs has joined other area municipalities and counties in filing an amicus brief brief in support of overturning the Uinta Basin Railway decision, according to a news release from the city.

“If allowed to stand, this increase in oil train traffic will have devastating consequences for Glenwood Springs and other communities along the rail and I-70 corridors,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes said in the release.

Last year, construction of nearly 100 miles of new railroad tracks in northeastern Utah, called the Uinta Railroad, was authorized by the Surface Transportation Board. The line will be used to transport extracted waxy crude oil from northeastern Utah through Colorado on the existing Union Pacific line and to refineries in the east.



The decision authorizes up to 185,000 crude oil cars to use UP’s Kyune-Denver line each year, representing a 20-fold increase from 2015, according to the release.

“Most alarming is the complete lack of consideration of the extreme fire risk, and potentially catastrophic environmental and economic consequences that would occur if there was a spill,” Godes said.



The brief addresses the Surface Transportation Board’s decision, arguing that the decision and its underlying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) are fatally flawed, and asks that the decision be reversed and that the EIS be redone with more attention to the consequences for Colorado

“A glaring shortcoming of the EIS is the claim that wildfire risk in the downline area is ‘not significant,’ which completely ignores real-world evidence,” Godes said.

The main concerns include a lack of consideration of the possible threat of forest fire ignition and oil spills that could cause harm to the amici governments and communities, the release said. The increase in train traffic carrying highly flammable crude oil through rough terrain more than doubles the risk of accidents along the Union Pacific Central Corridor, which parallels I-70, according to the release.

The case was filed in support of Eagle County and the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition for review of decisions by the Surface Transportation Board in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The cities of Minturn, Red Cliff, Avon and Vail, as well as the counties of Chaffee, Boulder, Lake, Pitkin and Routt are also participating in the appeal.

Local officials also said the decision could affect drinking water along the Colorado River, saying residents in the I-70 corridor deserve the same disclosure and analysis as those living in Utah, which STB considered the project’s study area, according to the release.

See the full text of the submitted brief

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