PETITION OPPOSING UINTA BASIN RAILWAY INDIAN CANYON AND WELLS DRAW ROUTES

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We petition The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition (SCIC), The Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB), the Federal Surface Transportation Board (STB), the State of Utah, and others to whom it concerns to reconsider and reject the Indian Canyon and Wells Draw proposed routes for the Uinta Basin Railway Project.

We hereby state and witness our opposition to the Uinta Basin Railway Project as currently proposed and as currently proceeding. It is concerning neither the SCIC nor CIB have been honorable, transparent, or forthcoming, with the public or the affected property owners, in relation to information pertaining to the proposed Uinta Railway Project. Moreover, as additional evidence comes to light, it appears both the SCIC and HDR, collectively and as individuals, have subjectively decided on their own to pursue the Indian Canyon or Wells Draw routes for their railway project.  Accordingly, it appears the aforementioned entities are acting in bad faith by knowingly and intentionally deflating the actual costs of the proposed construction along with misrepresenting the viability of both of these routes due to the steep, rugged terrain and excessive grades that accompany both of these proposed routes.  This is particularly so when the facts indicate an alternate route is by far more favorable, at significantly less cost and with considerably less impact on the environment and property owners.  Therefore, based upon a host of substantive reasons that will be asserted, not only by the affected property owners but other organizations as well, I state my written opposition to the SCIC and CIB’s highly subjective decision to pursue the Indian Canyon or Wells Draw routes for their controversial railway project.

We feel the SCIC and CIB have colluded to skirt the established rules, procedures, guidelines, and policies which regulate the CIB-controlled funds which are being used to pay SCIC salaries and benefits, engineering, environmental studies, and right of way planning. We feel that the SCIC, as a government entity, is recklessly misusing the federal mineral lease fees distributed by The Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB). From what we have been able to learn by reviewing CIB Meeting Minutes SCIC did not provide the required matching funds for the initial $6.5 Million of the requested $27.9 Million Dollars granted by the CIB, which the CIB requires for other projects that it funds. We feel that there is a conflict of interest by two current SCIC Board Members concurrently seated on the CIB.

We are disturbed by the SCIC’s Operating Rules, Regulations, and Bylaws; particularly sectionSection 3.9.3 of the SCIC Operating Rules, Regulations, and Bylaws which states that “The conflicts of interest in this paragraph 3.9.3 may be waived by a majority vote of the Board”. That means that if the SCIC gets the railway built, and then within 24 months anyone on the SCIC Board is offered and accepts a position with a company who conducts business with the SCIC that the SCIC Board can vote to waive any claim against that person for conflict of interest. We are disturbed by the SCIC and the ethics that they espouse.

We feel that the SCIC has intentionally deceived the public by garnering support for 3 previously proposed routes in Fall 2018 prior to the November 8, 2018 CIB Meeting, all of which were routes that connected to the national railway system in Colorado, while all along intending to orchestrate a last-minute bait and switch to the Indian Canyon and Wells Draw proposed routes. We feel that SCIC consultants have artificially deflated the cost estimates for the Indian Canyon route in order to deceptively make it appear as the most feasible and least economically impactful route.

We feel that the SCIC is over-stepping its role as a government entity by utilizing State-Administered Federal Mineral Lease money to construct a railway that SCIC wholly intends to own, for the benefit of private industry. If the railway is economically feasible then we feel that private energy companies, with billions of dollars of their own monies, should shoulder the risk and the burden and construct the railway on their own. We believe that SCIC intends to obligate the citizens of Utah for the $1.4+ Billion Dollars in Federal Loan Money that will be used to construct the railway, and that Utah’s citizens/taxpayers will ultimately be left holding the bag if oil prices drop or the economy slows as it has in years not far distant.

We believe that the Indian Canyon and Wells Draw routes will bring monumental environmental impacts, some of which include:

A railway on either the Indian Canyon option or Wells Draw option will severely damage the environment and ecosystem of Indian Canyon, Argyle Canyon, Avintaquin Canyon, and Emma Park - areas we love and desire to protect.
The railway would significantly impact and alter the groundwater in the canyons, impacting many landowners who have water rights and own springs and water wells in the area.
The railway would disrupt and permanently disfigure the landscape of the canyons, cutting and tearing out the very heart of the canyons we love and enjoy. We believe that damage and disruption of several streams, creeks, and watershed areas will unavoidably occur as a result of the construction of the railway.
The railway would forever impact and disrupt the myriad of wildlife in the area – deer, elk, moose, bear, sage grouse nesting areas, etc.
The area has been significantly damaged by wildfire in recent years. The railway will pose a significant risk of increased fire danger. One errant spark from a passing train could ignite a forest fire that would destroy the entire area, both flora and fauna, and devastate and destroy several off-grid canyon communities. This factor alone poses a monstrous threat to the safety of the residents and visitors of the canyons.
The area will be significantly impacted by increased pollution from passing locomotives emitting tons and tons of diesel emissions, which will unavoidably impact the health and wellness of the residents of the canyons.
There will be significant risk to the environment from possible derailments and spills of products transported on the rail cars, which also pose significant health risks to us residents of the canyons and our families.
SCIC and other governmental agencies neglect to plan for and consider the public health risks associated with increased pollution and impacts to air quality in Duchesne and Uintah Counties resulting from increased drilling, extraction, and transportation which are the drivers for construction of the proposed railway. The very communities that SCIC is claiming to provide such vital economic impacts are going to reap serious health problems as a result.
 

Sincerely,

Concerned conservationists, landowners, Utah citizens, taxpayers, and individuals.