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Environmental Groups Say BLM-Approved Pipeline Proposals Are Illegal

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club claim the BLM knowingly approved illegal pipeline proposals.

Two environmental protection groups are calling out the Bureau of Land Management for alleged misconduct in building a natural gas pipeline near Moab.

Landon Newell with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said Fidelity Exploration & Production divided the project into smaller venture proposals to break up the health and environmental analysis of the pipeline.

“The BLM, instead of looking at… [the pipeline and the gathering line] as one project, one connected action, separated those two projects,” Newell said.

He said in doing so, they skirted years of preparation and in-depth examination of the project’s potential consequences.  Newell said the separation is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

About a year ago, according to Newell, the company received approval from the BLM for the first portion of the project, the construction of a 24-mile trunk pipeline. However, he said the first project is useless on its own.

“In order to become operational it has to be connected through a system of gathering lines or feeder lines to the nearby wells that are producing oil or gas,” Newell said.

Newell claimed the BLM knew the projects were connected with the first proposal.

“I can’t imagine that the BLM didn’t anticipate there being this second additional project; it’s necessary in order for the first project to function or have any operational value or purpose,” Newell said.

Newell said the pipeline has a visual impact on the surrounding landscape, presents safety issues and has the potential to damage the environment.

The SUWA and the Sierra Club are seeking a review of the project from the Bureau of Land Management state director.

The BLM did not immediately return contact attempts from UPR.