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New oil pipelines pondered near Coalville

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

While Utahns struggle to fill their tanks paying some of the highest gasoline prices in the country, development is underway on two crude oil pipelines that will run petroleum to the Wasatch Front from Summit County and Wyoming.

To meet the demands of Utah refineries, Holly Energy Partners and Rocky Mountain Pipeline System are building separate facilities near Coalville, Summit County planner Don Sargent said.

But with talks between North Summit rancher Hatch Howard and Rocky Mountain Pipeline deadlocked this summer, the oil company sued Howard in Third District Court to gain temporary and permanent easements on his land.

"We did subsequently receive an agreement, so, I would be surprised if they’re still pursuing the eminent domain," Sargent said.

In an interview Thursday, Howard said he expects the condemnation lawsuit against his business, Bountiful Livestock Company, to be dismissed.

"It’s been settled and I gave them the right-of-way," Howard said, adding that multiple oil pipelines already cross his land near Coalville.

To construct its pipeline, Rocky Mountain claimed an easement is needed on Howard’s land that is nearly four miles long and 50 feet wide, the lawsuit filed against Bountiful Livestock states.

An appraisal valued the easement at $9,800, states Rocky Mountain’s five-page complaint.

Because the pipeline is necessary to deliver crude oil to several Davis County refineries, Rocky Mountain Pipeline was prepared to condemn Howard’s land to take permanent and construction easements for the project.

"I had to hire an attorney instead of having them negotiate," Howard said. "I realized they have eminent domain and they are going to go."

But he hoped the petroleum company would address concerns he raised about potential impacts another pipeline could have on livestock and wildlife on his land. Howard says he owns about 9,000 acres in the area, with 6,000 acres in Summit County and the remainder in Wyoming.

"I wanted to know where it was going to be put," Howard said, adding that installing more oil valves on the surface could disturb his animals. "It was supposed to be an underground pipeline."

The Rocky Mountain project is a 16-inch pipeline that is 91 miles long and designed to deliver 95,000 barrels of oil per day from eastern Utah to companies like Flying J, Tesoro, Silver Eagle and Chevron, according to the complaint.

"They never did prove to me that they needed the [new pipeline]," lamented Howard. "This is about the fourth or fifth (petroleum) easement that has been forced on us up there."

"I think that they probably could have used the other pipelines instead of this one," he added.

His family has grazed mostly sheep on land in North Summit since his grandfather began their ranch in 1899, Howard said, adding, "I’m very attached to it and I don’t want it developed."

"It was a condition of approval that prior to construction they obtained that easement," Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak said. "I was aware that [Rocky Mountain was] beginning the condemnation proceeding against Bountiful Livestock but we didn’t have anything to do with it."

The Eastern Summit County Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for Rocky Mountain Pipeline System on Sept. 6.

Meanwhile, word that Holly Energy Partners’ plans to construct a 16-inch pipeline to deliver crude oil to Davis County from Porcupine Ridge near Echo Canyon sent jitters through neighborhoods in Coalville.

According to Sargent, the pipeline could run through the North Summit city.

Holly officials expect it to connect to the Frontier Pipeline near the Wyoming border.

"Our biggest concerns are going to be threefold," Sargent said, insisting that construction crews use existing dirt roads whenever possible. "We’ll also be very careful in reviewing erosion control."

And Holly should attempt to construct the pipeline within existing utility easements, he added.

"Scarring any of the hills over here, we basically consider sight-line pollution. The views and vistas are a community asset for us," Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt warned. "Another pipeline comes through in the same exact area, so, I don’t see where there is going to be a problem. But, I just want to make sure they do a good job."


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