Tesoro’s pipeline may be on ice but oil is still a hot commodity
May 8, 2015
Homeowners along the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline corridor in the Kamas Valley should be overjoyed by Tesoro Corp’s announcement on Friday that the project has been placed on "permanent hold." For the last three years they have lived with the nightmare that their idyllic rural properties might be bisected by a 135-mile-long crude oil pipeline.
Local agencies, including Mountain Regional Water, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and Park City Municipal will also rest easier without the threat of a possible oil spill near vital waterways like the Provo and Weber Rivers and Beaver Creek.
Tesoro’s decision to back off the project is good news, even though it was based on a downturn in the marketplace, not on environmental sensitivities or the community’s vocal concerns about pipeline safety.
But we would caution Summit County not to let its guard down. At last word, the oil fields in the Uinta Basin and the refineries in North Salt Lake were still expanding and more than 250 double-tanker trucks a day were still rumbling northward on US-40 and then barreling over Parley’s Summit on I-80.
Nixing the pipeline means there will be no reduction in truck traffic in the foreseeable future.
That’s especially disappointing news for residents and businesses in Heber where US-40 doubles as Main Street. Unlike Summit County, where public sentiment mostly opposed the pipeline, Heberites were hoping to see some relief for their business district.
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It also means that the intimidating stream of land freighters will continue to exert pressure on the already congested highways from Quinn’s Junction to Silver Creek, eastward on the narrow flyover from US-40 to I-80 at Silver Creek and down the steep grade into Salt Lake City.
But perhaps, now that Summit and Wasatch counties are aware of their place on the oil industry’s food chain, residents and their elected officials can use this respite as an opportunity to look for better alternatives, including possibly resurrecting a rail line, creating an alternate truck route to circumvent downtown Heber or, better yet, by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. (Summit County and Park City have offered residents some enticing alternative energy options including solar and wind energy incentives.)
Tesoro may have lost interest in its Utah pipeline, at least temporarily, but we would be wise to remember that if the market changes course again, they will certainly return with another proposal.