Re-emphasizing their opposition to the proposed interstate natural gas pipeline, Bountiful officials might summarize their message to the U.S. Forest Service like this: "Give a hoot. Don't use this route."
On Friday, Bountiful Mayor Bob Linnell formally appealed to Stan Tixier, regional forester, to reverse an Oct. 17 decision by Susan Giannettino, supervisor of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.It's one of Bountiful's last chances to stop the pipeline.
Giannettino said she would amend the forest plan to allow not one but two pipelines to pass outside of an existing utility corridor and pass through 51/2 miles of forest east of Bountiful.
The pipeline, or pipelines, would link natural gas reserves in southwestern Wyoming with various gas markets in Southern California. The route, called the Wasatch Variation, passes through the mountains and Mueller Park east of Bountiful before cutting west and south through western Salt Lake County. Residents and officials of West Valley City and Kearns have voiced opposition to the pipeline, but their arguments have been thought less valid because the pipeline would follow an existing north-south utility corridor at approximately 5800 West.
Two competing companies, Kern River Gas Transmission and WyCal Pipeline, have been certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build the pipeline. For the past year, the companies have been racing to obtain contracts and necessary rights of way.
Throughout the environmental impact studies and public comment processes, however, the companies always said the market would support only one pipeline. And Forest Service officials always said they would allow only one pipeline, Bountiful's appeal notes.
"If, in fact, the `high stakes poker game' that the pipeline companies seem intent on playing results in a stalemate . . . as to who will build the pipeline, the Forest Service does not have to accommodate them by issuing permission for two different pipelines to be built," states the appeal.
The City Council is opposed to one pipeline coming through its back yard, let alone two, and voted unanimously last Wednesday to appeal Giannettino's decision, the legality of which was questioned strongly.
"I'm concerned with how easy it was for one individual in the Forest Service to change the (forest) plan," said Councilman Les Foy.
Referring to the city's chances of a successful appeal, Councilman Robert Gramoll wondered, "Are we going to be brushed aside by the same individual in the same . . . way?"
Though the City Council voted unanimously to appeal Giannettino's decision, the discussion was not without controversy.
Linnell said he had heard from Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and Gordon Reid, of the Forest Service, that WyCal had dropped out of the pipeline race and questioned, therefore, whether it would be necessary to appeal Giannettino's decision.
Councilwoman Renee Coon, who has led the anti-pipeline fight, said the city must use every means to stop the pipeline from using the Wasatch Variation.
"WyCal dropping out is not relevant in our appeal," Coon said. "We are on record opposed to the Wasatch Variation. . . . It doesn't matter if it's one pipeline, two pipelines or 10."
On Friday, WyCal spokesman Jim Bailey told the Deseret News that rumors of WyCal's dropping out of the pipeline race were unfounded.
Coon also suggested the council petition the Utah Division of Water Resources to delay granting the pipeline companies permits to cross streams in southern Utah, but Linnell disagreed.
Said Coon to the mayor, "If we are truly opposed to this Wasatch Variation, we will use every means (to oppose it). . . . Obviously, you don't feel the same way and that we should lie down and let them run over us."
The mayor, however, defended what he called his "aggressive" opposition to the pipeline, saying he thinks "it's rather presumptuous on our part to inject ourselves into (southern Utah communities') concerns."
Requests for action
Citing concerns about safety, water quality and aesthetics, Bountiful officials are asking the Forest Service to:
- Prohibit any pipeline outside of existing utility cor-ri-dors.
- Order a more extensive Environmental Impact State-ment.
- Determine whether the National Environmental Protection Act was violated in allowing two pipelines.