Last week our family received a registered letter from Tesoro Oil’s limited liability subsidiary, Uinta Express Pipeline. They requested permission to survey our land in the Kamas Valley. Apparently Tesoro has received preliminary approval to construct a heated, high pressure oil pipeline through this valley. The proposed route will enter the valley in Woodland, cross to the west side of the valley and out through the meadows adjacent to the Weber River in Peoa.
This is the first time we’ve had any idea a pipeline would cut through the Kamas Valley. Our land and the other land along this route is primarily wetland, loaded with springs, sub- pastures full of grazing cattle, meandering streams, woodlands and wildlife — one of the few remaining "native high altitude meadows in northern Utah. Hundreds, of ducks and geese winter here and sand hill cranes and geese nest here. Pelicans, ibis and swans use it as a resting stopover before continuing their migrations. Blue heron, eagles, falcons, osprey, owls, hawks and harriers hunt these meadows. This valley carries the Weber and Provo Rivers and their tributaries which fill Rockport, Jordanelle and Deer Creek Reservoirs providing water to Park City and the Wasatch Front.
We were frustrated to read the TESORO/Uinta Express brochure and website which indicates that the period for public input for the Environmental Impact Statement ended April 22, 2014 and the pipeline will be completed and operational as early as 2016 –leading us to believe it is ‘decided’ — a ‘done deal’ — with only minor adjustments and engineering questions left to be answered.
We object to this pipeline — to the visual degradation it would bring, the risks of leaks and spills, the impact of a heated pipeline and various structures on the environment, the disruptive nature of the construction period and the intrusive nature of weekly inspections and continuous access for repairs. Why should this "gem of a valley" be opened up to forty or more years of these risks and degradation? And we question a process which fails to notify landowners directly impacted and makes little effort to inform the general public. Why are these wetlands so available to a Limited Liability Fortune 500 Company? Isn’t it us who pays the taxes, lives on and cares for the land? And where is the discussion about "Should a pipeline go through the Kamas Valley?"
We have since learned it isn’t a ‘done deal.’ Tesoro/Uinta Express Pipeline is obligated, under the NEPA process, to fully consider and open for discussion, all potential options and routes including the option to not build a pipeline at all!
Tesoro/ Uinta Express Pipeline is holding a public meeting at South Summit Middle School in Kamas, Tuesday, June 10th, 6:00 to 8:00 pm. I hope to see many Kamas residents and concerned public at this meeting expressing their opinions about building this pipeline.