Francis residents concerned about Uinta Express Pipeline route
April 15, 2014
During the initial comment period for the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline, many residents of Francis where the preferred route could go were not even aware of the project. That is, until Francis resident Jane Gilford went around the neighborhood asking homeowners about it.
Gilford lives with her husband on Spring Hollow Drive and has a Chevron pipeline running diagonally through her property. That pipeline only features a 20-foot right-of-way but there is one main issue if the Uinta Express Pipeline parallels the Chevron line, it could take an even bigger chunk of Gilford’s property.
Tesoro, the company behind the Uinta Express Pipeline, says the pipeline will have a minimum 50-foot right-of-way and a 100-foot right-of-way on National Forest lands. It will be 12-inch common carrier carbon steel meant to carry yellow or black waxy crude oil, buried three feet deep and extending for 135 miles, much of it through Summit County.
If the pipeline parallels the existing Chevron line which Tesoro has said it hopes to do for much of the route — it could either impact Gilford’s land or her neighbor Gene Atkinson’s. Last spring, Gilford said Francis City sold Chevron a 100-foot by 100-foot piece of land adjacent to her property to build a check station after Gilford refused to sell some of her property.
"We bought [the land] to use it agriculturally when we were younger," said Gilford, who has 20 acres of land she and her husband wish to develop into a subdivision. "Now we’re looking to start developing it. A 120-foot [total right-of-way] takes out any possibility of development."
Atkinson said he feels "like a mushroom" during the public scoping process for Tesoro’s pipeline and is concerned that homes will have to be demolished to make room for it.
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"[Tesoro] couldn’t possibly not know where that pipeline is going," Atkinson said. "I don’t like being in the dark over this thing."
Tesoro Vice President of Business Development Michael Gebhardt told The Park Record that, since they are still early in the environmental impact statement (EIS) study process, they have not been out in the field looking at the specific route of the pipeline.
"The purpose of the EIS is to explore what the alternatives are and what the impacts are," Gebhardt said. "We’re looking to maximize existing corridors, proximity to existing pipelines and minimizing impacts to communities."
Both Atkinson and Gilford are concerned about what will happen if the pipeline parallels the Chevron line through the Wild Willow neighborhood, where there is new and existing development.
"Francis is starting to develop more. [The pipeline] is not only going to affect us, it’s going to affect everyone in the Francis community, more than anywhere else," Gilford said.
Gebhardt said Tesoro is going to begin collaborating with the City of Francis in looking at the route. Its design and engineering team will be responsible for that, and he added they will look to "minimize new disruption."
Gilford and her husband graze horses on their 20 acres of land but said either selling their house to move or using the land agriculturally is out of the question at their age. The two worked as janitors for 18 years, living in a trailer which is still on the property, to eventually purchase their home 20 years ago.
"You don’t know what to plan, you don’t know what to do you just sort of sit on hold," Gilford said. "It changes our whole 20 years of planning."
Although Tesoro has said it does have eminent domain at its disposal in creating the pipeline route, Gebhardt has said they will first and foremost try to work and negotiate with landowners to create the route and that Tesoro "hopes that doesn’t happen."
Gilford said she was told by a Tesoro representative that if it costs more to build the pipeline than it does to continue transporting the oil via tanker trucks, then it will not be built.
"So, I said, ‘Tesoro’s bottom line is affecting my life and my future?’ If it’s more profitable for them to run the pipeline, it’s going to affect my life," Gilford said.
Public comment on the pipeline was recently reopened until April 22. After that, the EIS process will begin. Individuals can send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org , via fax to 801-253-8118 or by mail to:
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Supervisor’s Office
857 West South Jordan Parkway
South Jordan, UT 84095-8594