Tesoro files complaint against County

David Burger, The Park Record

Tesoro Refining and Marketing filed a complaint in federal district court Wednesday against Summit County alleging that the county has infringed on its constitutional rights by enacting three ordinances in June that Tesoro argues are "arbitrary, capricious and illegal."

The oil company asks for judgment in its favor by having the ordinances be declared "null, void and of no effect," according to the complaint.

Tesoro, the owner and operator of an oil and petroleum-refining facility situated in Salt Lake County, Utah, has historically trucked unrefined waxy crude oil from sites in the Uintah Basin to the Salt Lake City refinery, the complaint says. "Tesoro has determined, however, that efficiencies of production and transport have indicated that the transport could be better accomplished via an underground pipeline To this end, Tesoro formed Uinta Express for the purpose of designing, locating, constructing, owning, and operating a proposed waxy crude pipeline."

Tesoro is proposing to build a 135-mile-long, heated pipeline to transport about 60,000 barrels of waxy crude per day. It is slated to enter Summit County near Woodland, travel west through Francis, and then turn northward, bisecting the Kamas Valley.

Tesoro alleges that "certain landowners within Summit County have contacted members of the Summit County Council requesting that Summit County take action to inhibit, restrict or prevent passage of the pipeline through Summit County."

On June 25, the County Council passed three separate ordinances, including two temporary land use ordinances that impose a six-month restriction on the placement of, according to the county, "hazardous liquids or materials pipelines" within the county. The ordinances, among other things, mandate setbacks and regulations that must be adhered to.

Among other claims, Tesoro alleges that the ordinances (numbered as 826, 826 and 827):

  • are an "attempt to legislate in an area preempted by federal law"
  • "were enacted without proper notice required by Utah law, and deprived Tesoro of procedural due process"
  • "constitute invalidly-enacted temporary use measures not supported by an adequate and proportional finding of compelling, countervailing public interest"
  • were "improperly enacted as arbitrary, capricious and illegal."

The complaint adds, "Summit County’s enactment of ordinances violate rights secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States."

Summit County was quick in its response Wednesday. "Summit County is aware of the complaint filed today in U.S. Federal District Court by Tesoro Refining & Marketing company against Summit County," said Summit County Attorney David Brickey in an email to The Park Record. "Please be assured that the Summit County Attorney’s Office will aggressively defend the decision of the Summit County Council in passing Ordinances 825, 826 and 827 that protects Summit County residents. Summit County will not make any further statement until an official response is due in federal court."


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