Utah, trade groups ask Supreme Court to review oil rail line

By Niina H. Farah | 04/09/2024 06:25 AM EDT

Supporters of the Uinta Basin Railway said a lower court overstepped when it ordered further environmental review of the planned line.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) speaks in Washington in 2020. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Utah’s top attorney is making an economic case that the Supreme Court should grant a petition challenging whether federal agencies need to consider distant effects of projects in their environmental reviews that they have no direct power to regulate.

The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition, an independent arm of Utah’s government, is aiming to reverse a lower bench ruling requiring the federal Surface Transportation Board to broaden the scope of its National Environmental Policy Act review of the planned Uinta Basin Railway. The project would carry waxy crude oil from Utah’s Uinta — or Uintah — Basin and connect it to Gulf Coast refineries.

The coalition argues that the high court could defend its past precedent and resolve a split between circuit courts on how to interpret the proper breadth of NEPA review, but the Supreme Court’s intervention could also have important benefits for economically struggling counties in Utah, said Republican state Attorney General Sean Reyes in a friend of the court brief.


“The Railway will be critical infrastructure facilitating the flow of commodities to and from the Uintah Basin,” Reyes said.