Their plan is to a) get the oil industry to pay for and build a road, b) charge an outrageous toll to the same oil industry thereafter, c) have enough left over for those amenities, such as a new water treatment plant, that we’ll justify as necessary to deal with impacts of the oil and gas industry.
The hitch is a) those same pesky environmentalists who might wish to declare the Book Cliffs wilderness, who b) might miraculously win over Rep. Bishop since c) down deep, if rarely expressed, he has an abiding reverence for Mother Earth.
The workaround is an innocuous study, two of them actually. The studies will look at a) where to put the road, which seems in broad terms pretty well known already, and b) the economic benefits of building it, whose conclusion can be guessed since either Uintah County and/or the oil industry will probably pay for much of it.
The expectation is that oil-laden trucks will drive to Thompson Springs, drain their tanks into rail cars headed to Green River or Salt Lake City refineries and head back. You’ll never see ‘em, unless of course there’s a reason to go to Farmington, the next oil/gas basin to the south. I suspect there will be reasons.
I’m dubious it’ll work, but I admit there’s some logic to the council’s inquiry to Uintah County. Still, I don’t like where this is headed.
Why not a pipeline instead of a road? If it’s just oil being transported, it’s far less invasive. Is it because Grand County can’t charge a toll on a pipeline? Or is it because the road is intended to support a nascent but potentially large-scale tar sands industry on the Tavaputs Plateau, possibly a heavy-oil refinery in Green River to deal with bitumen too thick to transport unless in a heated pipeline, or even a nuclear plant to supply gigawatts of up-front electricity to cook shale that nature didn’t?
If so, it gets harder to imagine that tourists won’t notice. Moab has a very saleable brand name, and it’s not Moab Oil and Gas.