EnCana’s Rifle pipeline gets approval
The Garfield County Commissioners approved EnCana’s 24-inch, 10-mile natural gas pipeline Monday, but not without a last minute plea from the city of Rifle.In a letter dated July 17, Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert asked the commissioners to require EnCana to permanently abandon its 12-inch pipeline when the 24-inch one is complete, because the 12-inch line presents “an extremely dangerous situation.”The commissioners did not link the new pipeline’s approval to the old pipeline’s abandonment, and approved EnCana’s special use permit 3-0.After the meeting, EnCana spokesperson Trevor Bors said his company plans to start construction immediately, and hopes the project can be finished in less than the 17 weeks mentioned in the special use permit application.The 24-inch pipeline’s route starts at EnCana’s Pumba compressor facility, 4.5 miles south of Rifle, and travels in a northerly direction between Grass Mesa and Taughenbaugh Mesa before terminating at the company’s West Rifle facility west of Rifle.The old 12-inch gas line rests on top of the ground in places, and runs close to new homes, businesses and Grand River Medical Center in south Rifle, city officials said.Lambert said the above-ground section of the 12-inch pipeline runs through an area subject to rock fall, which could break the line. “Natural gas under this pressure could cause a catastrophic fire in south Rifle,” the letter said.EnCana’s special use permit application calls for the old pipeline to be mothballed, but the company can put it back into service. “We’d like to preserve the pipeline as an asset,” Bors said.Future uses include natural gas or water transmission, Bors said.Early in Monday’s meeting, Garfield County Planner Randy Russell said the county doesn’t have the “regulatory hammer” to force EnCana to decommission the old pipeline.Monday’s pipeline discussion lasted 90 minutes. Commissioner John Martin asked about the new pipeline’s depth. EnCana representative Jimmy Smith said it will be a “minimum” of 48 inches underground. Commissioner Trsi Houpt’s questions included pipeline right-of-way width and transportation of the construction work crew to and from the work sites. Commissioner Larry McCown wanted to know about pipeline pressure.All three commissioners seemed satisfied with EnCana’s answers.The county commissioners attached five conditions to the special use permit, including a weed control and revegetation plan.In other action Monday, the commissioners:-Approved a conditional use permit in a 2-1 vote for Eric Christian Hodera to operate a gunsmith business at his home outside Silt at 7741 County Road 233. Houpt voted against the permit, and said the operation should be in a commercial zone district.-Rezoned Alan and Roxanne Morris’s 5.5-acre parcel at 0484 County Road 113 from agricultural/residential/rural density to commercial/limited. The site is the former JY Ranch salvage yard.-Extended the fire ban through Aug. 18.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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