The Uinta Basin, named after the Ute Tribe, is located in Northeast Utah and Western Colorado, about 200 miles from Salt Lake City. Streams from the Uinta mountains roll through the basin into a tributary of the Colorado River – supplying 40 million people with water throughout the drought-ridden West. Plants that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, such as the Uinta Basin hookless cactus and Graham’s beardtongue, flourish in the Uinta Basin. The ecosystem also harbors endangered species such as the sage grouse and black-footed ferret. By all accounts, the Uinta Basin is a beautiful ecological haven. Unfortunately, however, it sits atop pockets of crude oil and natural gas, which are being extracted. To transport crude oil to the Gulf Coast where it will be refined, local governments and oil companies are planning to invest $1.5 to $4.5 billion to construct a new railway through the basin. View of Christmas Meadows in the High Uintas Wilderness Area. Image by Brandon Rasmussin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). The Uinta Basin Railway is a proposed 88-mile stretch of train tracks that will blast through mountains, reroute 443 streams, bulldoze through endangered sage grouse habitat, appropriate private property and even fragment a roadless area in the Ashley National Forest. According to the U.S. Forest Service Chief, “a railway does not constitute a road.” The railway is projected to quadruple the region’s oil extraction from 85,000 up to 350,000 barrels of oil per day – resulting in an increase in air…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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