South Davis residents say that because Gov. Norm Bangerter doesn't want to tarnish his "economic developer" image they will have to challenge the routing of a controversial natural gas pipeline alone.
"We feel the state got into the situation and found they really want the pipeline and are afraid to get involved," said Dave Brown, a spokesman for the Bountiful Hills residents.Both Gov. Norm Bangerter and Bountiful City officials have refused to file a petition asking that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission re-examine the certification of the Wyoming-California Pipeline Co. (WyCal) to build a pipeline along the Wasatch Front. The filing deadline for such petitions is Monday.
Because of the official posture, Bountiful Hills residents and the Concerned Citizen's Association filed their own petition Thursday with the assistance of WyCal competitor, Mojave Gas Transmission Co., Brown said.
"We don't have a lot of resources. We take help where we can get it," Brown said.
Competitors, WyCal and Kern River pipeline companies, have warned that legal challenges to the Utah route could be the "death knell," and Mojave's route from Arizona to California would be chosen instead.
Brown believes that Bangerter had political reasons for not wanting to stall a pipeline that is expected to bring $80 million to Utah during construction and give the state $200 million a year in property taxes.
Douglas Bischoff, Bangerter's deputy chief of staff, said the governor's decision had little to do with the possibility that a challenge might kill the pipeline's chances of coming through Utah.
Bischoff said the attorney general's office advised the governor that entering the certification process this late posed legal problems and probably wouldn't stop the proposed routing along the "Wasatch Variation."
The route runs through Bountiful, North Salt Lake, Salt Lake City and the 58th West utility corridor in West Valley City. Residents said the pipeline cannot pass over earthquake and landslide-prone areas and still be safe.
Instead of a legal challenge, the governor sent a "strong" letter to the commission's chairman, Martha Hesse, this week. Bischoff said the letter points out several areas where opposition to the pipeline was dismissed or misunderstood by the commission and an administrative law judge.
In the letter, the governor points out agreements made between pipeline companies and West Valley City and Salt Lake City.
Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy said the city was satisfied with Bangerter's decision and letter. Bountiful, which became a legal party earlier to the certification process and would have been in a better position to file for a rehearing than the state, will not do so, Layne Forbes, Bountiful city attorney, said Saturday.
Bountiful officials are hoping that Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, can convince the U.S. Forest Service to allow the pipeline through 30 miles of Uinta National Forest land rather than along the populated Wasatch Front.
Hansen and aides of Sens. Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch meet with J. Dale Robertson, chief of the Forest Service, Thursday. Following the meeting, Hansen said the Forest Service is willing to re-examine its refusal.
While Hansen said he would introduce legislation Feb. 7 forcing the Forest Service to allow the pipeline through forest land, that bill has been put on hold.