The U.S. Forest Service has stayed its decision to allow a natural-gas pipeline through forest land east of Bountiful.
Bountiful City as well as a citizens group opposed to the pipeline are appealing an Oct. 17 decision by Susan Giannettino, supervisor of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.In that decision, Giannettino ruled that not one but two pipelines would be allowed to pass through 5 1/2 miles of forest land - including Mueller Park - that is outside of existing utility corridors above Bountiful.
Two pipeline companies - Kern River Gas Transmission Co. and WyCal Pipeline Co. - were competing to build a giant, 900-mile line from southwestern Wyoming to southern California. WyCal has since dropped out of the race.
Giannettino's decision to allow two pipelines angered Bountiful City and the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association, both of which are opposed to even one pipeline. The city and the citizens group appealed Giannettino's decision to Stan Tixier, regional forester.
In letters sent this week to Bountiful and the citizens group, Tixier granted a stay and said no decision to allow the pipelines will be made until the appeals have been reviewed.
Kenley Brunsdale, the attorney for the citizens group, said the Forest Service has up to 100 days to review the appeal but believes a review will come quickly and that it won't be favorable to pipeline opponents.
"I think there's a lot of pressure (from Kern River) on the Forest Service to issue early. I think they'll issue a decision in June."
Noting that WyCal has dropped out of the race, Brunsdale said the Forest Service has a strong case to amend its decision to allow one pipeline.
In addition to the Forest Service appeal, Brunsdale's group is fighting the pipeline in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, where Brunsdale has filed an appeal of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's decision to grant certificates to the pipeline companies.
Brunsdale said he has also complained to the commission that Kern River is not complying with an order to meet with all interested parties to discuss environmental mitigation plans. A meeting has now been scheduled.