Tesoro has pressed the pause button on plans to build a petroleum pipeline halfway across northern Utah.
The San Antonio-based petroleum company informed Summit County leaders last week that current market conditions were behind their decision to put a hold on its Uinta Express Pipeline.
Kim Carson, chair of the Summit County Council, says the community was wary about possible environmental impacts.
“Our first preference would be no pipeline,” she explains. “But, in case there was going to be a pipeline, we wanted to make sure it was along as safe a route as possible.”
Tesoro proposed the underground pipeline to transport waxy crude the 135 miles between wells in the Uintah Basin to the company’s Salt Lake City refinery, where an expansion is underway. The proposal also would have taken around 250 tankers off Utah roads each day.
Water districts worried about potential harm to the Weber and Provo River watersheds, and that concern prompted new county ordinances, a lawsuit and two years of negotiations.
Carson says other communities can learn from Summit County’s experience to prepare their own laws for proposals like this.
“It could happen to any county at any time,” she says.
Tesoro spokeswoman Christina Barbee said in a statement “we may reevaluate moving forward with this project in the future under more favorable conditions.”
Carson says that means the county will continue to monitor Tesoro’s plans for the project.