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U.S. COMMISSION DENIES REQUEST TO REROUTE NATURAL GAS PIPELINE AWAY FROM THE WASATCH FRONT

SHARE U.S. COMMISSION DENIES REQUEST TO REROUTE NATURAL GAS PIPELINE AWAY FROM THE WASATCH FRONT

Federal Energy Regulatory commissioners have denied requests to reroute a natural gas transmission pipeline away from the heavily populated Wasatch Front.

The draft order exhausts administrative recourses for opposition groups, said FERC public information officer Bob Cecil.Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association plan on going to court once the draft order has been reviewed, said spokesman Dave Brown.

"We'll fight this pipeline all the way," Brown said. "Residents will live the rest of their lives with risks that won't be adequately mitigated."

FERC members unanimously voted last week not to rehear the matter, saying all alternative routes explored in the final environmental impact statement pose problems, Cecil said.

"The commissioners found, as in earlier rulings, the Wasatch Variation, with mitigation measures, is the most environmentally acceptable alternative," Cecil said.

The FERC's decision to grant three optional certificates to Mojave, Kern River and WyCal pipeline companies to build an 837-mile transmission pipeline from Wyoming into Southern California was the target of a congressional oversight investigation in Salt Lake City earlier this month.

The investigation, spearheaded by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, was held to establish a public record on the FERC's proceedings. A committee is analyzing data and testimony with hopes of arriving at an recommendation, said Scott Kearin, Owens' assistant.

Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, drafted a bill opposing the Wasatch Variation. It was introduced Feb. 20 and assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Opposition groups aren't optimistic the bill will ever reach the floor, said Brown.

"The bill will probably stay stuck in committee," he said.

WyCal is determining the specific route, finishing preliminary design work and acquiring rights of way, said Jim Bailey, spokesman for WyCal's parent company, Coastal Corp.

The pipe has been ordered, but no construction contracts have been signed, he said. WyCal would like to break ground by January, he said.

The Forest Service has agreed to begin proceedings to amend the Wasatch-Cache Forest Plan, said Dick Kline, Forest Service spokesman.

"We'll have to determine if we should allow a one-time, one-route access or establish a utility corridor." Kline said.