Utahns opposing an interstate natural gas pipeline have allies now in Clark County, Nevada.
Officials there are girding up to fight plans that would bring the pipeline through the populous Clark County, the seat of which is Las Vegas.Clark County is resisting condemnation efforts by Kern River Gas Transmission Co., which is planning to build a 900-mile, 36-inch pipeline from Wyoming to Southern California.
Joining the county's opposition is Rep. James Bilbray, D-Nev., who has filed a bill that would require a reassessment of the pipeline route.
"We'd like to keep the pipeline out of the urbanized area," said Mahlon Edwards, Clark County counsel. "They could have gone around Vegas but I don't know why they didn't choose to."
The $934 million pipeline would cut through the north end of the county, running down the middle of a proposed section of the Centennial Parkway, a major 100-foot wide thoroughfare.
The dispute over the pipeline is in a Las Vegas court and may not be decided for weeks, Edwards said.
Kern River spokesman Paul Hart said he could not comment about the legal action.
Bilbray's legislation seeks to amend the Mineral Leasing Act to prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from issuing any right-of-way grants on federal property until the bureau had certified that the pipeline route is "preferable to all other feasible, alternative routes."
So far, only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified the pipeline route, which in Utah has drawn much criticism, particularly in Davis County, where the pipeline would cross watersheds, dissect a popular Forest Service park and pass close to homes.
"(Bilbray's bill) could be an effective way to stop the pipeline," said Kenley Brunsdale, the attorney for a Bountiful citizens group opposed to the project. "It gives the BLM stewardship to determine which is the best route for the public interest. It will force them to review the other routes."
Brunsdale, who ran unsuccessfully last year against Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, has been retained by Clark County, Nev., in their fight against the pipeline.
Hart said his office has not yet seen the Bilbray legislation and, therefore, would not comment.
Despite the opposition, Kern River already begun construction on access roads to the pipeline route in southern Utah, said spokesman Jim Gipson. But Gipson did not believe any pipe had been laid yet.