County Council to address pipeline |

County Council to address pipeline

David Burger, The Park Record

The Summit County Council will focus much of its attention at today’s weekly meeting on a proposed pipeline that some members fear threatens rivers, creeks, wetlands and the regional water supply.

Three ordinances directly related to the pipeline, including two temporary land use regulations, will be discussed as the Council tackles the issue after recent open houses and meetings hosted by Tesoro Refining and Marketing, LLC, with east Summit County residents.

The issue was pushed onto today’s agenda after three residents dominated the public-input portion of the council’s June 18 meeting, leading to an hour-long discussion of the pipeline and lingering questions after a June 10 community open house at South Summit Middle School in Kamas. The trio expressed concerns that a high-pressure pipeline slated to run through the length of Kamas Valley so close to the watershed could be disastrous in the event of a leak or spill.

"I do think we have to accelerate what we have been doing," said County Councilman Dave Ure. "I don’t think Tesoro has been totally upfront with us."

"We want to get feedback sooner rather than later," said Councilwoman Kim Carson. She dismissed talk that the council was tardy in addressing the pipeline issue, saying, "I don’t feel we have been inattentive to the process."

Council chair Chris Robinson talked about a possible moratorium, in light of written comments from the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and the Mountain Regional Water Special Service District that enumerated their worries about watershed impact. (He noted that local water managers "are not long-haired wahoos.") "We want to do a good job of protecting the water supply," he said. "We need to be more emphatic."

While the council didn’t outline what specific direction they wanted to go in at the June 18 meeting, all five councilmembers said they want to get answers from Tesoro in response to resident complaints as well as hear from staff members, whom Chief Civil Deputy Attorney David Thomas said had been working around the clock for months on the issue.

"We’re figuring out what we can and cannot do," Councilman Roger Armstrong said. He added, "[Tesoro] couldn’t have chosen a worse pathway than what they chose."

Previous Park Record stories have reported that Tesoro is "proposing to build a 135-mile-long, 12-inch diameter, heated pipeline to transport approximately 60,000 barrels of waxy crude per day, from its oil fields in the Uinta Basin to the refineries in north Salt Lake City. Dubbed the Uinta Express Pipeline, it is slated to enter Summit County near Woodland, travel west through Francis and then turn northward, bisecting the Kamas Valley According to Tesoro, the pipeline is preferable to the increasing number of oil transport trucks currently traveling through the county via U.S. 40 and Interstate 80. That traffic is currently pegged at 250 trips per day and is expected to increase as the oil fields are expanded."

Today’s meeting will be held at the Summit County Courthouse (60 N. Main St. in Coalville) and will convene with a work session at 1:50 p.m. Public input is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

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