News of the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline that would pump waxy crude oil through Summit County came as a surprise Tuesday to county officials, who said they had not been included as a stakeholder in the process by the Forest Service.
The 12-inch insulated pipeline would carry paraffin-rich crude oil from Duchesne County to refineries in Davis County. The proposed route would be roughly 135 miles long and would parallel portions of an existing Chevron crude pipeline for the first 40 miles running from Francis, north to Coalville and then west to Salt Lake. There are also two alternative routes that would take the pipeline through the southern part of the county.
The Forest Service is overseeing the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the pipeline.
The notice for intent to prepare an EIS for the pipeline was published by the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in the Federal Register on Jan. 29. However, according to Summit County Public Information Officer Julie Booth, the county first heard about the pipeline on Feb. 4, when asked about it by The Park Record.
"[This pipeline] so much impacts our county, we believe we should be a participant [in the process]," Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said at Wednesday's County Council meeting. "We would like to be a stakeholder or an active participant in the Forest Service's process of preparing the EIS."
Booth said the Planning Department stated the 12-inch pipeline is an allowed use in the county, though County Engineer Leslie Crawford said the pipeline is an allowed use on the East Side but not in the Snyderville Basin.
"Engineering will be monitoring this to ensure they have the right easements and right-of-ways," Crawford said. "A stormwater pollution prevention plan and an excavation permit will be required."
Booth said the Planning Department added that the company would have to obtain conditional use permits for the construction of any pump houses or utility sheds.
Summit County Chief Civil Deputy Attorney David Thomas said that an existing state statute designates the county as the coordinating entity for the purposes of a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedure.
"The Forest Service dropped the ball because they're required by state law to contact the coordinating agency," Thomas said at Wednesday's County Council meeting about Summit County not being included in the pipeline's EIS process.
Larry Lucas, recreation and lands staff officer with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, confirmed that Summit County is a stakeholder in the process. Jasper said the county has no authoritative ability but wants to be included.
"[The county] can give input, but it's Forest Service land and it's their decision," Jasper said. "They don't have to tell us what they're doing, but they should."
County Council member Roger Armstrong said he is concerned about the pipeline's potential impact on sensitive areas and riverbeds. He said he wants the county to be a "smart participant" in the process.
In a memo from Booth, the comments of Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Yoder regarding the pipeline were given. She wrote that it could be "beneficial in avoiding diesel emissions of tanker trucks and reducing truck traffic."
However, air quality benefits could be offset if a pipeline rupture were to occur, the memo stated. Concern about potential impact to sage grouse habitat was expressed, as was the logic of building a "special" pipeline for paraffinic crude, questioning whether the pipe could be refurbished for other products after that use is depleted.
Two public open house meetings regarding the Uinta Express Pipeline are scheduled:
Wednesday, Feb. 19, 6 to 8 p.m., Wasatch High School, Heber City
Thursday, Feb. 20, 6 to 8 p.m., Bountiful High School, Bountiful