Just when it looked as if Mayor Bob Linnell and Councilwoman Renee Coon were finally about to agree on the natural gas pipeline issue, they resisted.
Wednesday night, the mayor told the City Council that he believes the city should deny Kern River Gas Transmission Co.'s request for a right of way through about 12 acres of city-owned land in the mountains east of town.The mayor also recommended the city join a Morgan County company in a federal lawsuit the company filed last week against Kern River.
Coon - who has strongly criticized the mayor for taking little action to oppose the pipeline - tried hard not to let her chin hit the table as she listened to the mayor speak.
"I must say, I'm really surprised at this discussion here," Coon said. "I am really pleased."
But the mayor didn't seem to take that as a compliment.
"I'm really surprised that you're surprised," Linnell told Coon. "This is totally consistent with our policy all along. . . . Our whole objective is and always has been to get the pipeline out of the mountains east of Bountiful."
Regardless of the debate over who was more surprised about what, the City Council voted unanimously to refuse Kern River's right-of-way request and to join the lawsuit.
That decision almost had pipeline opponents dancing in the streets outside City Hall.
"I was totally shocked and surprised but gladdened and heartwarmed," said Dave Soutter, vice president of the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association.
The association, through attorney Kenley Brunsdale, has tried nearly every legal challenge to stop the 900-mile-long pipeline, which would carry natural gas from southwestern Wyoming to Southern California.
The challenges have so far failed to stop the pipeline, portions of which are under construction in southern Utah, Nevada and California. Davis County opponents say the route through the Wasatch Mountains will damage watersheds, pose safety hazards and threaten the aesthetics of Forest Service land, such as Mueller Park.
Brunsdale, who is representing Morgan-based Goldfleck Corp. in its suit against Kern River, said he is pleased the city voted to join the lawsuit.
"This is their shot" to stop the pipeline, he said. "They've got the opportunity to have the decision effective to them."
That decision is up to U.S. District Judge Thomas Greene, who has taken the Goldfleck suit under advisement.
The suit argues that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unconstitutionally granted the power of imminent domain to Kern River, which is trying to condemn Goldfleck's property for a pipeline easement.
Greene, who postponed a Kern River condemnation motion so he could study the Goldfleck suit, was "intrigued by the question," Brunsdale said.
If Greene rules in Goldfleck's favor, his ruling would protect Bountiful from any condemnation efforts by Kern River, he said.