South Davis residents began planning their attack Friday night to keep a pressurized natural gas pipeline out of their neighborhoods.
About 75 people packed into the North Salt Lake City Council chambers and were asked to sign petitions, to be sent to Gov. Norm Bangerter, and donate money to a legal defense fund. They want the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to change its decision to certify the pipeline along the "Wasatch Variation" route through south Davis County and the Salt Lake Valley.They also want Bangerter to direct state attorneys to mount a federal court appeal if the commission doesn't change the permit.
"The governor has really given us no support. We have only gotten a little bit of lip service," said Renee Coon with the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association. "Our best hope is with the state. I don't think we (alone) will win an appeal with FERC."
The meeting of residents follows a Jan. 11 decision by the commission to permit the Wyoming-California Pipeline Co., or WyCal, to build a 1,000-mile pipeline from southeastern Wyoming to oil fields in Southern California. The gas would be used to create steam that would be injected into oil wells to increase production.
Coon told the crowd that they have until Feb. 13 to petition the regulatory agency's commissioners to reconsider the WyCal permit. In particular they want the "Wasatch Variation" removed from the plan and either a New Mexico route or another Utah route approved. She said two small California towns were purposely avoided in the present plan, while the metropolitan Salt Lake route remained in the plan.
"It they can't find a better way, we don't need it," she said.
At the same time Coon asked residents to begin phone and letter campaigns to Bangerter, Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch and Rep. James Hansen to convince them to help in their fight. Coon said earlier requests for help to the offices of the congressmen had fallen on deaf ears.
"I am worried about the slope stability, property values and the additional traffic. I think there have been letters written and phone calls made, but the response back has made us feel like we haven't been listened to," Sarah Evans, who said she lives about 700 feet from the proposed pipeline route on Bountiful's east bench.
Dave Brown, a Bountiful resident and opposition leader, said that the regulatory commission's decision ignored the mud slides and flooding potential in the area. Without proper trench compaction or diking the floods of 1983 could be repeated after the pipeline is buried.
"In 1983 it was an act of God. This time it may be an act of man," Brown said.
North Salt Lake resident Sandra Finch said she was concerned for her safety because the 30-inch pipeline route runs between two nearby oil refineries. A ruptured line could result in extensive explosions at the refineries, she said.
In addition to organizing an appeal to the decision, they said they would try to halt pipeline company proposal to amend forest plans for the Wasatch Cache National Forest. The amendments are necessary before pipeline construction can begin.