Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, August 3, 2021


Wendy Park, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7138,
John Weisheit, Living Rivers, (435) 260-2590,

Utah Judge to Hear Case on Misuse of Public Money on Fossil Fuel Projects

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.

In August 2020 conservation groups sued the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board for granting nearly $28 million in public money to the proposed Unita Basin Railway. The railway would move oil from northeast Utah’s Uinta Basin to refineries in other states and could quadruple oil production.

State and federal laws require these public funds to support projects that help communities deal with the impacts of mineral development on federal public lands.

“This money is supposed to help rural communities fix roads and buy fire trucks and build health centers, not buy more pollution,” said Wendy Park, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who will argue the case. “We’re hopeful the court will force the board to stop promoting fossil fuel extraction and start using this public money the way Congress intended.”

What: Online hearing before Utah District Court Judge Adam T. Mow on challenge to Permanent Community Impact Fund Board’s misuse of public money

When: Wednesday, Aug. 4, 1 p.m. MST

Where: Utah District Court, online; registration required

Who: Center attorney Wendy Park will be available for comment after the hearing.

The proposed 85-mile 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.

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.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Living Rivers is a nonprofit environmental membership organization, based in Moab, Utah. Living Rivers promotes river restoration and seeks to revive natural habitat and the spirit of rivers by undoing the extensive damage done by dams, diversions and pollution on the Colorado Plateau. Learn more at

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