Carbon County commissioners approved a conditional use permit on March 7 for Questar Corporation to construct and operate a 24-inch gas pipeline between an existing pipeline near Soldier Creek at the base of the Book Cliffs, crossing the Tavaputs plateau and continuing into Duchesne County.
In 2005, Questar installed a gas line from the western boundary of Carbon County, through Carbonville and terminating at existing lines at Soldier Creek.
Questar currently operates a pipeline in Nine Mile Canyon. But in 2004, when the gas company proposed an expansion of its pipelines, community members voiced opposition to installing a 24-inch pipeline in Nine Mile.
As in many other other natural gas exploration and drilling projects in the northeast portion of the county, concerns voiced by opposition centered largely around preserving cultural and historic artifacts in the area.
Since that time, Questar has explored alternate routes and settled on a route that bypasses much of Nine Mile Canyon. Instead, the gas company will add a new utility right-of-way on the Tavaputs Plateau.
Plans for the pipeline show a route along the base of the Book Cliffs from Soldier Creek to Rock Canyon, where the pipeline climbs onto the Tavaputs. Eventually, the pipeline meets existing roads and drops into Nine Mile Canyon in Duchesne County near Gate Canyon and joins an existing pipeline in Duchesne County. The pipeline parallels Nine Mile Canyon Road for approximately two miles before heading north, where it follows the existing pipeline into Uintah County where it terminates in the Uintah Basin.
Tim Blackham, who represented Questar at the commission meeting, confirmed that the purpose of the pipeline was to increase capacity for natural gas between the Uintah Basin and the Castle Valley.
To access the pipeline, Questar proposed using multiple county roads and improving or building a handful of other roads where necessary. The project will create new traffic on state roads, such as U.S. Highway 6 and Utah Highway 123. Various county roads will also be impacted, such as Soldier Creek, Nine Mile Canyon, Dugout Canyon and Clarks Valley roads. A handful of private roads, such as Whitmore Canyon Road will also see impact.
Because construction crews will be using county roads, the company will need to comply with the county's road encroachment ordinance, which was passed by the commission in 2006. Under the ordinance, Questar will be required to take steps to repair or rebuild any roads damaged in the project.
County planning director Dave Levanger said that Questar will need to file a plan for each of the roads utilized as part of the pipeline constriction or operation.
County land and access coordinator Rex Sacco expressed concerns about locations where the pipeline passes under county roads. He requested that Questar work to ensure that the road and pipeline are designed in such a way that it will handle the heavy truck traffic present on many county roads. He said that if necessary, the pipeline under roads would by constructed of heavier materials.
Blackham told commissioners that Questar has completed all of the environmental assessments relating to the pipeline, but has not secured all of the necessary rights-of-way.
He said Questar hopes to begin construction by May 1. He said construction should be completed and the pipeline will be in service by Nov. 1.
He added that the project will cost in excess of $100 million.
The commission approved a conditional use permit for Questar's pipeline under the condition that the gas company comply with any city, county, state or federal ordinances and laws.