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Pipeline projects coming in Utah County

2 will carry natural gas, another will deliver petroleum

Three new or expanded pipelines — one carrying petroleum and two carrying natural gas — are coming through Utah County in the next couple of years.

They should help ease some of the energy crunch and seem to be more universally acceptable to the public because of the crunches, said LaVerne Steah, project manager for the Bureau of Land Management.

"We're finding there is interest because of the current energy problems," Steah said. She also said people are less concerned about impacts from the natural gas pipelines and more concerned about the petroleum products line because they fear seepage.

"However, we've not heard from any environmental groups," Steah said. "Just a few landowners who have corridor concerns."

Questar is asking for the right-of-way for a new 75-mile, 24-inch diameter natural gas line that will complete a loop project designed to satisfy a need for additional transmission from the Price coal bed methane fields to local markets and to meet increased peak requirements for Wasatch Front consumers. Some will be delivered to Payson and to communities west of Questar Gas Co.'s Payson City Gate.

The remaining gas delivered to the Questar pipeline would flow to a connection west of Elberta with the interstate Kern River Gas Transmission Co. pipeline, which flows gas from Wyoming to Southern California, freeing up some of the natural gas product for Salt Lake markets.

The Kern River construction would create a new 82-mile, 20-inch pipeline from the west side of Price to the Elberta connection.

The Williams Pipeline Co. wants permission to convert and expand an existing 220-mile petroleum products line on federal lands from northwest New Mexico to intermediate storage locations in Nephi and to a terminal point north of Salt Lake City, enlarging the line and adding pumps to five existing pump stations and constructing seven new pump stations. From there, the fuel products can be made available to customers along the Wasatch Front, in western Colorado and in eastern Utah.

Current pipelines offer little or no excess capacity to meet existing energy supply demands, demands that are growing along with the increase in Utah's population. Williams officials say the new pipeline will help meet the projected demand.

Without the Williams pipeline, according to a study commissioned by the State Office of Energy and Resource Planning on petroleum supply and demand, there will be a deficit of gasoline supplies of as much as 4.1 million barrels per year between 2001 and 2020. Diesel fuel, jet fuel and all other petroleum products would also be in short supply.

When the Williams pipeline deliveries are added to that already provided, there would be a 5 million-barrel surplus in the Salt Lake region from 2004 to 2020, resulting in lower local gasoline prices and the export of excess supply to other regions.

In each case, the Bureau of Land Management is taking the lead in working with a number of agencies to determine how best to handle and minimize disruption along the utility corridors.

Impacts from the pipeline construction include disturbance of the soils and an increase in soil erosion as well as a reduction in timber. The expanded corridors may affect wildlife movement patterns.

Some threatened, endangered or sensitive birds, fish and plant life will be affected, including the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, northern goshawk, the burrowing owl, the Bonneville cutthroat trout, the Kind's woody aster and the sneezeweed hymenoxys.

Five landslide areas must be crossed by one or two of the pipelines, and in the Price and Green River areas, lands of some significance to the Navajo people would be crossed. Navajo medicine men want to conduct ceremonies at three locations to "bless the river before it's disturbed," said Steah.

However, permitting the construction to be done concurrently would reduce disruption.

BLM officials have set up a series of public meetings to disseminate information and to take comment.

A meeting tonight will begin at 7 p.m. in the Juab County High School in Nephi at 802 N. 650 East. On Wednesday, March 28, a 7 p.m. meeting is planned at the Payson City Hall, 439 W. Utah Ave., and in Price, on Thursday, March 29, a 7 p.m. meeting will be in the Association of Governments and Small Business Development Center, 375 S. Carbon.

Comments in writing can be made until April 16 to LaVerne Steah, Project Manager, Bureau of Land Management, P.O.Box 45155, Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0155.