Members of the public got their first chance to comment and receive more information on Tesoro's proposed Uinta Express Pipeline this week. Open house meetings were held Wednesday and Thursday in Heber and Bountiful, respectively.
Many Tesoro employees, such as Vice President of Business Development Michael Gebhardt, were in attendance at Wednesday's open house at Wasatch High School in Heber, as were public figures such as Utah 54th District Rep. Kraig Powell (R-Heber City).
Steve Cain, facilities and lands manager with the Provo River Water Users Association was at the open house because he said the pipeline has the potential to cross the Provo River and other waterways at multiple locations.
"We're working with Tesoro to make sure the pipeline is designed and installed in a way that doesn't impact the watersheds," Cain said. "On the global level, we probably believe the pipeline is safer and more environmentally friendly than trucks."
Heber resident William Quapp said he is interested in supporting the pipeline in order to remove oil tankers from the streets.
"I don't see any environmental issues at this point because [Tesoro is] using existing right-of-ways and there are no new land impacts that I've heard about," Quapp said. "My key thing is they build enough capacity for the growth of the [oil] industry so we continue to keep trucks off the road."
The Uinta Express Pipeline would be 135 miles long and consist of 12-inch pipe buried three feet deep.
Tesoro says the pipeline would reduce the number of round-trip tanker truck trips from the Uinta Basin to Salt Lake City by 250 per day. Waxy crude oil, a highly paraffinic material that must remain heated, would be transported through the pipeline.
Larry Lucas, recreation and lands staff officer with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said that the Forest Service will oversee the formulation of the project's environmental impact statement (EIS). He said that after the 45-day public scoping period, there will be two years of environmental field inventories of the pipeline route.
Nan Elzinga is the project manager for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and will be involved with the EIS. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Utah Division of Natural Resources, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the Utah State Historic Preservation Office will all be involved in the EIS process.
"Cooperating agencies will be given their area of expertise to comment and concur on. That information will be given to the Forest Service as part of their decision making," Elzinga said.
This June, specialists will do field surveys for potential endangered species near the route, as well as affected waterways and wetlands. Impacts will be calculated per acre based off of different land uses, and Elzinga said the route with the least environmental impact will be chosen.
After a draft of the EIS comes out, the public will have 60 days to comment, after which a final EIS will be completed, which will follow with a 45-day objection period. Gebhardt said he expects the whole process to take about two years.
Powell said he has been pleased with the amount of public input the pipeline has received thus far.
"[Tanker] truck traffic is the biggest single issue of interest. If this [pipeline] could be a solution to that, I think the citizens could be supportive," Powell said, adding that residents hope the pipeline doesn't lead to a boost in oil production, leading to more tanker traffic.
The northern route would be 135 miles long and would run northwest from Duchesne County and through 14 miles of the Uinta National Forest before going through Woodland and Francis. It would then bear north and then northwest past Peoa, around the east side of Rockport Reservoir, under Interstate 80 past Wanship and Hoytsville, before tracking west near Coalville until it reaches refineries near North Salt Lake.
Written comments about the Uinta Express Pipeline are due March 17 and can be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , by fax to 801-253-8118 or by hand or mail to:
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Supervisor's Office
857 West South Jordan Parkway
South Jordan, UT 84095-8594