SALT LAKE CITY― A Utah district court judge will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by conservation groups challenging the misuse of public funds on fossil fuel projects, including the proposed Uinta Basin Railway.
In August 2020 conservation groups sued the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board for granting nearly $28 million in public money to the 88-mile-long railway project. The railway, which could facilitate the quadrupling of oil production from northeast Utah’s Uinta Basin, would move crude from Utah through Colorado to Gulf Coast refineries.
What: Arguments before Utah District Court Judge Adam T. Mow on the Center for Biological Diversity’s motion for summary judgment in its challenge to the Permanent Community Impact Fund Board’s misuse of public money
When: Wednesday, May 25, 1:30 p.m. MST
Where: Judge Mow’s courtroom, Utah District Court, 450 S. State St., Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114
Who: Center attorney Wendy Park will be available for comment after the hearing
The proposed Uinta Basin Railway would spur new drilling and fracking in the region, damaging roads, straining public facilities and services, worsening the climate crisis and harming public health. The railroad, along with access roads, well pads, pipelines and increased trucking, would also fragment wildlife habitat and strain precious water supplies.
State and federal laws require these public funds to be used to support projects that help communities deal with the impacts of mineral development on federal public lands. But the board transferred nearly $28 million to the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition to advance the railway.
A 2020 report from Utah’s Office of the Legislative Auditor General raised serious concerns about the Community Impact Board, including improper funding of economic development projects. The audit highlighted the Uinta Basin Railway as one of the projects demonstrating the need to improve the board’s policies and practices.