STB Extends Uinta Basin Railway DEIS Comment Period

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is extending until Feb. 12 the comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed 85-mile Uinta Basin Railway in Utah. Eagle County, Colo., requested the extension on Jan. 25 due to concerns about the Tennessee Pass Line in Colorado.

What’s the connection? The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is project applicant for the Uinta Basin Railway, and Rio Grande Pacific Corp. is the proposed operator. Rio Grande is also owner of Colorado, Midland & Pacific Railway Company (CMPR), which recently requested STB authority to lease and operate the Tennessee Pass Line. CMPR entered into an agreement with Union Pacific (UP) to lease the majority (163.1 miles) of the rail line between Parkdale and Sage, Colo.

According to the STB’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA)—which issued the Draft EIS for the proposed Uinta Basin Railway in late October—Eagle County stated “stakeholders in Colorado are concerned that rail traffic from the Uinta Basin Railway, including unit trains carrying crude oil, could travel on the Tennessee Pass Line if both the proposed construction and operation of the Uinta Basin Railway and the proposed lease and reactivation of the Tennessee Pass Line were to move forward.” The comment period extension will give stakeholders more time to evaluate potential impacts, STB said.

In Jan. 26 statements to STB, the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition and the Rio Grande reported that “there are no plans to transport oil originating from the proposed Uinta Basin Railway on the Tennessee Pass Line” and the “primary objective of the proposed lease and reactivation of the Tennessee Pass Line would be to provide passenger rail service, and it would not be practical or economical to transport oil on the Tennessee Pass Line,” STB said.

The comment period for the Uinta Basin Railway DEIS closes Feb. 12. OEA will then prepare a Final EIS that responds to the Draft EIS comments.

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