Tesoro Refining & Marketing, bowing to feedback from Summit County officials and stakeholders such as water purveyors and landowners, is exploring the possibility of altering the route of the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline considerably.
Michael Gebhardt, vice president of strategy and business development for Tesoro,
said Thursday in a phone interview with The Park Record that the oil company is
investigating an alternate route that would be well east of the originally proposed
The variation on the pipeline's originally intended route would place the pipeline far east
of the Rockport Reservoir and, significantly, through a less densely populated area of the
county. "That is one attraction," Gebhardt said.
Tesoro has historically trucked unrefined waxy crude oil from sites in the Uinta Basin to the Salt Lake City refinery. The company is proposing to build a 135-mile-long, heated pipeline, called the Uinta Express Pipeline, to transport about 60,000 barrels of waxy crude per day. It is slated to enter Summit County near Woodland, travel west through Francis, and then turn northward, bisecting the Kamas Valley.
Gebhardt, who met with the U.S. Forest Service and Oakley city officials this past week to talk about the pipeline's alignment and impact, said nothing is set in stone. "No pun intended, but the variation varies," he said.
One of those attending the Oakley meeting was Doug Evans, an executive with Mountain Regional Water and former Oakley mayor.
"I felt better after the meeting than before. They have to get it away from Oakley's water source," he said.
According to Evans, the original route threatened critical wetlands near the Weber River and Beaver Creek. The newer route, which is still being studied, would put the pipeline on the east side of the valley below Hoyt's Peak but above the Provo River diversion canal.
"I think it is safe to say it will be out of the wetlands. They literally were paralleling the river," Evans said.
More specific details about the variation were not available, Gebhardt said, because Tesoro and the U.S. Forest Service are still in the initial stages of preparing a environmental impact statement that would precede deliberations on where the pipeline would run. The draft of the EIS is scheduled to be available in the summer of 2015, Gebhardt said.
Summit County Attorney David Brickey said that Tesoro officials have seemed "more conciliatory" in the pipeline process, and seemed to be listening more to stakeholders' concerns.
One stakeholder in the process is Tom Clyde, who lives just outside of Woodland near the Summit and Wasatch county line, next to the Provo River. He owns about 700 acres around his home, and the proposed pipeline would cut through his property.
While the eastern variation would likely not affect him because of his southern location, he said Tesoro representatives he has met with have been "more willing to work with homeowners" than he anticipated, as in being open to adjusting the alignment of the pipeline through his land.
Clyde has met with myriad pipeline officials over the last few months, and last week a group of about 15 walked his property as the worked on the EIS. Forest Service specialists are working with Tesoro contractors and specialists on investigating, conducting and analyzing soil sampling, cultural research, wildlife surveys and other studies.
Clyde is looking at the possibility of Tesoro being able to condemn as many as 15 acres for pipeline construction on his property, but he said, "I was always resigned to the fact that it was going to be built," he said. "It's just a question of where."