Idaho-Wyoming gas pipeline requires environmental study

US officials will not approve a gas pipeline from Idaho to Wyoming until additional environmental studies are completed.

A U.S. District Court on Wednesday approved an agreement between the U.S. Forest Service and two environmental groups that have filed a lawsuit to stop the 50-mile (80-kilometer) Crow Creek pipeline project.

The Forest Service has agreed to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement before allowing the project, which partially crosses Forest Service land. The timeline for completing the environmental study is unclear.

Lower Valley Energy, based in Wyoming, wants to build the pipeline that would start near Montpelier, Idaho, and head towards Afton, Wyoming. But the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection say it will harm protected grizzly bears and other wildlife.

“The decision is a huge win for the climate as well as for endangered free-ranging species like grizzly bears, wolverines and lynx,” said Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

A lawsuit filed by the groups in 2020 argued that an 18-mile (29 kilometer) portion of the pipeline would cut a corridor through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and create a route through six roadless zones. The No-Road Rule of 2001 prohibits road building and timber harvesting in designated no-road areas, which are typically 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) or more.

Environmental groups argued that the pipeline corridor would be a permanent motorized trail through the roadless areas.

“This unique area that connects the northern and southern Rocky Mountains must be protected and managed as a wildlife corridor for our endangered wildlife,” said Jason Christensen, director of Yellowstone at Uintas Connection.

Lower Valley Energy — which intervened in the case on the Forest Service side, as did the state of Wyoming — previously said it was trucking natural gas to Afton, but the delivery was unreliable and that the city was sometimes almost exhausted. .

Lower Valley Energy spokesman Brian Tanabe did not immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press.

The Forest Service, before trial, approved construction of the pipeline through the forest with a temporary 50-foot (15-meter) wide right-of-way for construction, then a 20-foot (6-meter) utility corridor as a permanent right of way. In total, the construction phase would use approximately 110 acres (45 hectares) of forest land and the permanent right-of-way approximately 45 acres (18 hectares).

Approximately 26 miles (40 kilometers) of the pipeline crosses private lands and approximately 4 miles (6 kilometers) crosses federal lands.

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