Davis County residents angry that a natural gas pipeline will apparently be built in their neighborhoods - say they hope to challenge the decision in federal court.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to permit the Wyoming-California Pipeline Co., or WyCal, to build the controversial 1,000-mile pipeline from Wyoming to oil fields in California. The gas would be used to create steam, which is injected into oil wells to increase production, Robert Arvelund, environmental project manager with the commission, said."As far as we are concerned I am very disappointed in FERC. I think they have been totally unfair and totally ignored all of the officials in Davis County and Salt Lake County," said Renee Coon with the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizen's Association. The group has opposed the construction of the 30-inch pressurized pipeline that could run through their east bench Bountiful neighborhood.
"We will do everything we can legally do. We are not through fighting," Coon said.
In October, Gov. Norm Bangerter stopped short of promising to mount a federal court appeal if FERC certified the pipeline route.
"We will take the best responsible and balanced approach. That could include an appeal," Bangerter told the Bountiful Area Chamber of Commerce.
Arvelund said the regulatory commission approved more than 150 recommendations made in an environmental impact statement, including the proposed "Wasatch Variation" pipeline route through residential areas in Bountiful, North Salt Lake and along a 58th West utility corridor through the Salt Lake Valley. The variation was originally proposed because Forest Service officials opposed pipeline routing through Uinta National Forest land.
"The commission in essence adopted the staff's environmental impact statement, which looked at all of the alternatives and concluded the best was the original Wasatch Variation," Arvelund said.
WyCal is a partnership of two subsidiaries of Houston-based The Coastal Corp. The pipeline will take a year to construct, and the Utah portion will cost about $204 million, James A. Bailey, spokesman for The Coastal Corp., said.
"We hope to start construction late this year and start shipping gas in early 1991. We will have 2,000 construction-related jobs," Bailey said.
WyCal has said the pipeline will cost $665 million. About 366 miles of the pipeline would run through Utah. It would diagonally cross the state from a point near Evanston, Wyo., and exit near St. George and then travel past Las Vegas to oil fields outside Bakersfield, Calif. A much shorter east-west leg will transport gas from pipelines in Arizona to California.
While the company plans to build a compression station near Delta, there will be only a few post-construction jobs in Utah, Bailey said.
The company began Thursday securing contracts with gas suppliers and users. The contracts will be needed to persuade banks to finance the project. It will also begin negotiations to buy rights of way in Utah and meet with local residents and officials, Bailey said.
Both WyCal and Kern River pipeline companies have been competing to build a pipeline in a similar route across Utah. Four other companies have been competing to build pipelines on different routes. One reason WyCal was given priority was the fact it submitted an expedited permit application that makes the applying pipeline company take greater risks, Arvelund said.
The regulatory commission's decision follows public hearings, including two held in Salt Lake City in April and August. At those hearings residents and officials raised concerns about the safety of the pipeline, mountain scarring, landslides caused from pipeline construction and the fact that the pipeline will cross the earthquake-prone Wasatch fault.
Early in October, mayors from five south Davis County communities issued a joint resolution opposing the plan. They have said federal regulators should have allowed the pipeline to pass through national forest lands in Summit, Wasatch and Utah counties, as originally proposed, rather than routing through a populated area.
"We are disappointed with them choosing to bring the pipeline down the mountainside and scarring it. They have authority to do that and I guess we can't stop it," Bountiful Mayor Dean Stahle said. "I think we have done all we can do."
West Valley City Manager John Newman said he doesn't share the same level of concern as Bountiful but does believe more study is needed on the route through his city because it runs near two schools, and he has no guarantees that the pipeline company will repair streets torn up for the pipeline.
Arvelund said the public has a right to petition the commission for a rehearing on the permit. If the commission rejects the petition, the permit could be challenged in federal court.
"The commission's decision is not unchallengeable. I would think that people would oppose it," Arvelund said.