US Officials Block Idaho-Wyoming Gas Pipeline Pending Environmental Review

(P&GJ) — Officials in the United States have blocked the approval of a natural gas pipeline from Idaho to Wyoming until additional environmental studies are completed.

On Aug. 10, a U.S. District Court approved an agreement reached between the US Forest Service and two environmental groups that had filed a lawsuit to halt the 50-mile (80-km) Crow Creek Pipeline Project.

"This unique area that links the Northern and Southern Rocky Mountains must be protected and managed as a wildlife corridor for our endangered wildlife species,” Jason Christensen, director of Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, said in a statement to the Associated Press.

Before authorizing the project that partially crosses Forest Service land, the Forest Service agreed to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement. The completion date of the environmental study is not specified.

Wyoming-based Lower Valley Energy hopes to construct the pipeline that is planned to run from Montpelier, Idaho, to Afton, Wyoming. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, on the other hand, argue that it will harm protected grizzly bears and other wildlife.

In a lawsuit filed in 2020, the groups claimed that an 18-mile (29-km) section of the pipeline would cut a corridor through Caribou-Targhee National Forest and create a road through six roadless areas. The 2001 Roadless Rule prohibits road construction and timber harvesting in designated roadless areas of 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) or greater.

The pipeline corridor, according to environmental groups, would be a permanent motorized trail through roadless areas.

Lower Valley Energy, which intervened in the case on behalf of the Forest Service, as did the state of Wyoming, previously stated that it has been trucking natural gas to Afton, but delivery has been unreliable, and the town has occasionally run out.

Before the lawsuit, the Forest Service authorized building the pipeline through the forest with a provisional 50-foot (15-meter) wide right-of-way for construction and a permanent 20-foot (6-meter) utility corridor. The construction phase would require approximately 110 acres (45 hectares) of forest land and approximately 45 acres of permanent right-of-way (18 hectares).

The pipeline crosses private land for about 26 miles (40 km) and state land for about 4 miles (6 km).

Lower Valley Energy spokesman Brian Tanabe declined to comment on the decision.


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