The Federal Surface Transportation Board has cleared the way for the construction of the Uinta Basin Railway.
Under the plans, a consortium of Rio Grande, Drexel Infrastructure and the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation will build, finance and operate the new 85-mile railway line connecting major oil fields in Utah with the national freight network.
The project has received various criticisms for its ESG impact and the deal is subject to final environmental mitigation measures and an ongoing environmental and historic review.
Importantly, the Ute tribe’s support for the project (the group will initially take a 5% stake in the project, with the option to buy more) was seen as a key factor in the project’s success, with tribe officials describing the project as “vital”.
The authority procuring the plan is a band of Utah counties dubbed the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, consisting of the Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, San Juan, Sevier, and Uintah counties.