Pipeline code amendments are necessary to protect county watershed
January 6, 2015
The Summit County Council is holding a public hearing this evening on a handful of code amendments to help regulate the installation of hazardous-materials pipelines. The amendments address setbacks from water sources, nearby construction activity and other easements. If adopted, the new rules will take effect just as a previous set of temporary restrictions are due to expire.
The temporary rules were adopted in June as a precautionary measure to ensure that sufficient protections were in place as the Uinta Express Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Tesoro Refining and Marketing LLC, locks down its plans to transport about 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day through Summit County via a 135-mile pipeline stretching from the Uinta Basin to Salt Lake City.
As currently proposed, the pipeline would enter Summit County from the National Forest east of Woodland before turning northward in Francis and skirting the eastern edge of the Kamas Valley. From there the so-called East Rockport Route crosses Weber Canyon just east of Oakley and continues north on the east side of Rockport State Park crossing interstate 80 near Wanship and remaining in Summit County’s jurisdiction north to Coalville at the base of Lewis Peak and finally exiting the county near East Canyon Reservoir.
Throughout its length the pipeline traverses sensitive wetlands and watersheds, making the restrictions essential to protecting residents’ culinary and agricultural water systems. So who could possibly oppose the proposed ordinances?
Last summer Tesoro Refining and Marketing filed a complaint in district court claiming the temporary ordinances enacted by the county in June were illegal and interfered with the company’s Constitutional rights.
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It is a sure bet the company will be keeping a close eye on tonight’s public hearing and on the county’s ongoing efforts to ensure proper safeguards are in place as the pipeline proceeds. But we are also betting that Summit County’s leaders and residents are more than ready to stand up to the oil company when it comes to protecting the place we call home.
The public hearing is scheduled to take place tonight, Jan. 7, at 6 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building at Kimball Junction.