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Neguse submits funding withdrawal for Uinta Basin rail project

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse is continuing efforts to stop construction of the Uinta Basin rail project that would carry oil through Colorado.

Neguse's office said Tuesday he submitted amendments to stop funding the Uinta Basin Railway Project in three appropriation bills for fiscal year 2024. The railway project would run along the headwaters of the Colorado River.

“As House Republicans charge forward on spending proposals that undermine key environmental protections for our waterways and watersheds, I am proposing amendments to halt the construction of the Uinta Basin Railway,” Neguse said in a statement. “A train derailment that spills oil into the headwaters of the Colorado River’s headwaters would be disastrous to our state’s water supplies, wildlife habitat, and public lands.”

Last month, Neguse, a member of the House Rules Committee, and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO, asked the U.S. Bureau of Land management for an environmental review of the proposed railway, the Wildcat Loadout, to examine the impact on the state’s water, land, air and climate.

The railway is projected to increase the annual transportation capacity to 4.6 billion gallons of waxy crude oil from a facility near Price, Utah, according to information from Neguse’s office. Environmental organizations and local governments are backing the federal environmental review.

Neguse and Bennet began lobbying President Joe Biden’s administration for a review of the project in July 2022. After a February train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, released the toxic chemical vinyl chloride, the Colorado congressmen asked U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to withdraw a special authorization for the railway until a safety and environmental review could be conducted.

Neguse’s proposed amendments stop funding to issue a permit for the project. The amendment to the Interior and Environment appropriation restricts money to issue right-of-way permits for the railway. His amendment to the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations restrict any funding for financing of the construction of the railway.