angry that a federal commission has denied a request to reconsider a decision allowing a natural gas pipeline through their neighborhoods - said Thursday they hope to take their case to federal court.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted late Wednesday to deny petitions for rehearing from the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association and five other organizations, Tamara Young-Allen, commission spokeswoman, said.The groups had asked that the commission reconsider a permit it issued in January to allow Wyoming-California Pipeline Co., or WyCal, to build the controversial 1,000-mile pipeline from Wyoming to California.
"The commission did seriously weigh and consider the problems which the Bountiful Hills residents and their representatives have with the Wasatch Variation," the commission said in a final 10-page order issued Thursday.
"As discussed in our Jan. 13 order, we find that the Wasatch Variation, with our required mitigation measures, is the most environmentally acceptable alternative."
The commission did agree to add language to their order which requires pipeline companies to "work closely" with the affected residents in Davis and Salt Lake counties.
Pacific Gas and Electric, the California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Gas, Mojave Pipeline Co. and Kern River Gas Transmission Co. filed petitions for rehearing in addition to the Bountiful group.
The 30-inch pipeline is planned to be routed through residential areas in Bountiful, North Salt Lake and along a 58th West utility corridor through the Salt Lake Valley.
The Wednesday ruling means that appeals at the administrative level have been exhausted. A federal court ruling or an act of Congress will likely now be required to reverse the decision.
"Well, we are going to try to appeal it if we have have enough resources. We have no choice," said Renee Coon.
Residents have opposed the route because they question the safety of the pipeline in flood- and earthquake-prone areas in canyons above Bountiful. They also say construction will scar mountains above their homes and disrupt the Mueller Park recreation area.
Gov. Norm Bangerter and the attorney general's office, who denied residents' earlier requests to help in their petition, should now step in an help in a legal appeal, Coon said.
Coon said the residents group is also considering several other avenues.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, said in February he would introduce a bill requiring the pipeline be built across the Uinta National Forest. The bill was put on hold while Hansen negotiated with the Forest Service to drop its opposition to the plan, said Millard Wyatt, Hansen's legislative assistant.
"The Forest Service didn't say no, but they say they would have to open the forest plan, which is about a two-year process," Wyatt said.
Given those facts, Hansen will introduce the bill within a week. If it passes Congress, it would circumvent the forest plan process, Wyatt said.
Residents were taking a wait-and-see position on whether Hansen actually files the bill and they have an even bigger question about whether it would ever pass Congress.
"I think he (Hansen) is just dragging his feet waiting for them to be able to do it. I think he made the statement (about filing a bill) in the first place just to calm people down up here so they wouldn't be on his back. I don't know if he really intends on doing it," Coon said.
Two other companies are competing with WyCal to build pipelines to California. They include Kern River Gas Transmission Co., which wants to use a similar route through Utah, and Mojave Pipeline Co., which wants to transport gas from Arizona to California.
The gas would be used to generate steam, which would be injected into oil wells near Bakersfield, Calif. The clean-burning gas will also help oil companies meet air quality standards.