Opponents of a pressurized natural gas pipeline said two route alternatives through the Wasatch Front or the Uinta National Forest are both potentially dangerous and pipeline companies should begin looking elsewhere for routes.
Renee Coon, spokeswoman with the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association, said Tuesday night that federal officials and pipeline companies should begin looking at routes that don't affectunstable forest land or neighborhoods in the Bountiful bench and Salt Lake Valley."The Uinta route is not a good route. There were other routes proposed through the state, but they (pipeline companies) refused to look at them because they were too expensive," Coon said.
The statements were made at a meeting to garner support and take up donations for a legal defense fund to mount a federal court appeal of a recent Federal Regulatory Commission decision.
The commission has decided to permit Wyoming-California Pipeline Co. or WyCal to build a 1,000-mile pipeline from southwestern Wyoming to California and may soon permit another company, Kern River Gas Transmission Co., to use the route.
About 80 people attended a meeting at Woods Cross High School including representatives from Bountiful, North Salt Lake, the governor's office and the offices of Rep. Jim Hansen and Sen. Orrin Hatch, both R-Utah, and Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah.
A local attorney offered to donate his time to the project, and one resident offered $1,000 to help in the appeal. Others signed up to join fund-raising committees.
The group's main opposition is to the Wasatch Variation of the route. The group says that route goes through unstable and earthquake-prone mountain land in south Davis county. Members are also concerned that pipeline construction will spoil the Mueller Park recreation area.
Tom Hardy, Bountiful city manager, warned residents that an appeal could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He said that while the city didn't feel it appropriate to spend taxpayers money on such an expensive legal appeal, the city still opposes the Wasatch Variation.
Bountiful officials do support efforts by Hansen to negotiate a deal with the Forest Service or introduce legislation to force the pipeline through the Uinta National Forest, Hardy said.
At the meeting, Bountiful Councilman Harold Shafter challenged the sincerity of Gov. Norm Bangerter's assistance in challenging energy regulatory commission's decision.
"I don't think the governor wants to see it change," Shafter said. If the governor paid as much attention to the pipeline as he had the Olympics, it probably wouldn't be routed through the area, he said.
Douglas Bischoff, Bangerter's deputy chief of staff, told Shafter he "didn't know what he was talking about."
Bischoff, in other comments, said the pipeline would be a boon to central Utah communities. He said that for the first time communities like Nephi and Beaver could have natural gas systems and the Coalville area gas wells would have a ready market.