Uintah Basin Railroad Vacated!

August 18, 2023: Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a proposed crude oil rail line known as the Uintah Basin Railroad project, ruling in favor of Sierra Club and our allies. The proposed rail line, which faced significant economic challenges given current crude oil prices, would have created an 80-mile rail spur intended to allow crude oil to be carried from Utah, along 233 miles of the Colorado River, and ultimately to refineries along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. In a summer that’s seen devastating wildfires in Hawaii and Canada, intense flooding in New York and Vermont, and unlivable temperatures in Phoenix, adding more fossil fuel infrastructure is reckless and would help push the climate crisis even closer to irreversible tipping points.

In ruling with the Sierra Club, other conservation organizations, and down-rail Utah communities, the Court held that the Surface Transportation Board improperly ignored the additional pollution the rail line would add to Gulf Coast communities in Texas and Louisiana already overburdened by pollution from oil refineries. The Court also rejected the Board’s failure to adequately analyze impacts on the Colorado River or the risk of wildfires on down-line communities as a result of train derailments and wildfires.

Ultimately, the Court vacated the proposed rail line – a clear win for communities and the climate. 

Sierra Club was represented by Wendy Park and Ted Zukoski at the Center for Biological Diversity. Environmental Law Program senior attorneys Nathaniel Shoaff and Nathan Matthews assisted with the briefs and oral argument before the DC Circuit.