Welcome to The Senate Site

Monday, August 07, 2006

Uintah Basin 2006

Duchesne County oil production site, looking north.

Greg Bell, Howard Stephenson [oil rig] Brad Johnson, Dan Eastman

Someone please turn the air conditioner on!

Alice Hillyard, Senator Bev Evans, and Senator Karen Hale

Adequate cell phone signal. Sometimes.

John Dougall: the man, the legend.

Presentation by representatives of the Ute Nation.

Senators Arent and Niederhauser and Mrs. Niederhauser at Newfield Production.

Q & A at the Town Meeting in Vernal. 175 people participated: legislators, residents, local officials and a few staffers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Daily Herald article.


Lawmakers hear from energy industry leaders

ALAN CHOATE - Daily Herald
Members of the Utah Legislature heard a simple message from energy industry leaders and Uintah Basin officials on Monday: Business is booming, and we need your help.

Lawmakers heard the message in Duchesne County, where both oil and natural gas production has increased sharply in recent years. That's meant more jobs, more investment and more money for state coffers, but it also has put a strain on local infrastructure -- a strain that may threaten the industry's continued success in Utah.

The site visit -- which concludes today -- gives lawmakers a chance to see firsthand what the conditions are in an area that's off the Interstate 15 corridor.

The region is important to the state, said Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem.

"We view this as a statewide concern because this is an economic development engine," he said. "It has driven a significant amount of the surplus that we have.

"As good stewards, we're trying to say, 'How do we keep the surplus coming?' "

Many of the issues brought up by oil company executives concern subjects that are outside the Legislature's jurisdiction -- the permitting process for drilling on federal lands, for example, or competition from Canadian oil. Lawmakers were urged to encourage the development of more oil refinery capacity in Utah and to help make it easier to look for energy resources on public lands.

The main emphasis, however, was on something near and dear to every local elected official's heart -- roads.

The trucks and equipment needed to extract and transport oil and gas have battered the county's roads badly. Many of them are unpaved, and those with pavement weren't designed to support heavy truck traffic.

The roads are narrow, potholed, run along steep inclines and often around blind turns.

"They've got great needs in roads," acknowledge House Majority Leader Jeff Alexander, R-Provo.

"When you have a small community like this where their economy is totally dependent on roads, and they don't get any attention, that creates big issues for them."

Roads, of course, are a big issue everywhere else too. Utah County leaders are chasing funding in an effort to head off traffic gridlock, and other fast-growing areas have the same problem.

That could make one solution that's been discussed contentious, Valentine said. Duchesne County leaders have asked that the state allocate a portion of the revenue from mineral leases or severance taxes for county road projects.

"It will be difficult to do because everybody views that they have a road problem that the state needs to take care of," he said. "The roads that they're speaking of are almost all county roads. They're not state roads.

"Our county, for example -- Utah County will say, 'Hey, we'd like to have more money for our county roads as well.' "

Even so, he added, "we're spending a lot of money on the Wasatch Front on freeways. Maybe we should be spending some money out here in local roads that are highly impacted by oil and gas development."

That development is showing growth. The U.S. Department of Energy has forecast that the Rocky Mountain region will bypass other regions of the country in energy production starting in 2010. In a fossil-fueled economy, that has impacts at all levels of the economy.

That's why what happens to the state energy industry should be important to all Utahns, said state Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo.

"Have you been to the pump lately and seen the price of gas?" he said.

"There's more oil here -- in the tar sands, for example -- than many of the reserves in the Middle East. Absolutely, this is something that is critical not only for Utah but also for our nation. The question is, at what price, and what's the timeline?"

Alan Choate can be reached at 344-2556 or alanchoate@heraldextra.com.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.

8/08/2006 10:09 AM  
Blogger The Senate Site said...

Exerpts from the Vernal Express article by Elizabeth Goode and Genevieve Bruno:

According to the full agenda, the legislators were not allowed an idle moment. Arriving in Roosevelt at the USU campus at 10:30 Monday morning, August 7, they boarded buses to Newfield Production for a mini oil field exposition for information. Following that, they heard industry presentations, and a tour of oil production sites. County officials, local leaders, and industry representatives accompanied each bus load to act as tour guides and attempt to answer any questions the legislators might have.
Senator Curt Bramble, District #16, said, “Coming out for this visit to the Uintah Basin, being a first-person witness to what is happening, is so valuable. Sitting in the Wasatch Front it’s hard to visualize what it’s like out here. It’s like the difference between seeing the game on T.V. and actually being in the stands.”

Legislators commented that the tours, the meetings, and the dining tables provided opportunities to have one-on-one conversations with local people. Representative Gregg Buxton, 12th District, explained that, “One conversation can change the direction of the legislature.”

Legislators are concerned about “the boom — bust cycle,” too. Ric Cantrell, Senate Aide said.
That last bus did not arrive back in Vernal until after 7 p.m., but it was generally felt that it was worth a lot to the legislators — and to Uintah County. Senators and representatives had good questions and seemed to get the feel of everything that is going on.

Darlene Burns from Public Lands Department said, “I was on the shortest energy tour and came back to Western Park early so I could greet legislators, spouses and staff as they got off the buses after a long afternoon of touring oil shale, tar sands and energy sites. Their responses were very positive of what they had seen, and they were glad to have had a first-hand view of the remote areas. They had seen the amount of traffic on the roads first-hand. They were excited about the possibility of more development, particularly in the field of alternative fuels.”

“What this is going to do,” said Ric Cantrell, “is educate a thousand debates over the next year.”

12/18/2006 11:12 PM  

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