The proponents of the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition are blatantly attempting to deceive the citizens of Grand County.
Among a mess of circuitous non-answers, UDOT CIB representative Jeff Holt gave a well-rehearsed example of a Coalition project that would benefit Grand County at the Sept. 17 forum. Mr. Holt indicated that he’d been thinking really hard about how to get more tourists down to Grand County. His apparent answer was a scenic passenger rail line into Moab. Problem is that just two weeks prior, at the Sept. 3 CIB meeting, he spilled the beans on what this ‘scenic’ rail line was really about.
At the meeting, Holt, after discussing the need for rail into San Juan County, sardonically brought up the ‘scenic’ rail line into Moab – snickering laughter filled the room. Mr. Holt then went on to say “…but it does happen to be on a very critical rail line, and it does get to San Juan.” The ‘scenic’ rail line is obviously a flimsy Trojan horse. We should be getting the full story, and we’re not. I don’t think this kind of deception is funny. Judge for yourself – jobs.utah.gov/media/housing/cib/cib0903b.mp3 ~ minute 35:00.
Additionally, council member Jim Nyland made a statement at the Sept. 17 forum that the Coalition and the Book Cliffs highway have nothing to do with one another. This is a ridiculous statement. I realize the highway is bad P.R. for the Coalition, but we’ve already been told numerous times that the highway is on the potential projects list. If you listen to the full Sept. 3 CIB meeting, you will hear just how important a highway, pipeline, and transmission line corridor coming off the Book Cliffs is to this Coalition.
The Coalition’s primary project is a $3 billion rail line from Uintah to Carbon County. The carrot being presented to Grand County is ‘excess’ revenue sharing from this project. When was the last time a $3 billion project came in on budget, wasn’t plagued with heavy litigation, and sometimes even corruption? What kind of liability would Grand County bite into if we signed onto that supplemental agreement?
In April of last year the “Uintah Basin Energy and Transportation Study” (UBETS) was published. This study actually predicts a drop in conventional crude production after 2016. So why the need for a $3 billion railroad and a $200 million highway? Tar sands and oil shale, that’s why.
UBETS predicts that by 2025, oil shale and tar sands crude production will eclipse conventional crude. This would require hundreds of thousands of acres of mountaintop-removal-style strip mining. By the end of the study period, oil shale and tar sands production is expected to be between 40 and 60 million barrels a year. This is comparable to one of the larger mines in Alberta.
Grand County is at a defining moment in its history. Do we continue on a path of reasonable and balanced energy development, or do we sign on to help facilitate massive strip mining?