Crow Creek Pipeline Project

Pipeline route at Kiesha’s Preserve at two years|Ruby Pipeline near Mantua, Utah at about six years|||| Pipeline route at Kiesha’s Preserve at two years|Ruby Pipeline near Mantua, Utah at about six years|||| |||||

Status

The Crow Creek Pipeline project is proposed by the Forest Service to provide natural gas to the Afton/Star Valley, Wyoming area by pipeline instead of the current use of highway transportation.  Y2U’s primary concern is that a large portion of the 20-mile-long pipeline route runs through Idaho Roadless Areas (IRA) and further fragments the Corridor. We are specifically concerned about the unintended road that will be created along the pipeline route and the potential for OHV/ATV use in this area. We also want the Forest Service to address concerns such as potential effects of soil disturbance, methane leaks, and the indirect and cumulative ecological impacts which must be analyzed and disclosed in the Environmental Impact Statement. These are particularly of concern where the pipeline route leaves authorized roads and trails that are already in place and enters IRAs. In February 2018 Y2U submitted scoping comments on the project.  In November of 2018, Y2U and Western Watersheds Project (WWP) submitted comments on the project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).  The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released in April of 2019 with a Finding of No Significant Impact and the Record of Decision approving the Crow Creek Pipeline was released in November 2019.  Upon release, Y2U concluded that the FEIS did not adequately analyze the potential environmental impacts of the project and address potential alternatives.  On June 25th, 2019, Y2U filed an Objection on the Crow Creek Pipeline Project.  The full sets of comments and the Objection can be found below.

Work Plan

Y2U, along with Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council have secured legalrepresentation who is looking at pursuing litigation of the project.

Expected Outcome

Unknown at this time.

Press Release

April 20, 2020

Conservation groups file a lawsuit to stop construction of natural gas pipeline in SE Idaho

Yellowstone to Uintas Connection and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a lawsuit in Idaho federal district court today against the Forest Service to challenge the decision to allow construction of the Crow Creek pipeline through five National Forest Inventoried Roadless Areas in southeast Idaho.

"Last November the Forest Service authorized a private company to clear-cut a 50-foot wide, 18.2-mile-long corridor through National Forest public lands for construction of an underground natural gas pipeline in southeastern Idaho,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “In addition to the 50-foot right-of-way during construction, the Forest Service gives the private company a permanent 20-foot right-of-way to maintain the pipeline. There will also be above-ground facilities such as valves in addition to the pipeline itself, the utility corridor, and staging areas.

"The Forest Service failed to analyze the impact of the pipeline construction on three species that may be present in the area and are listed as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act -- grizzly bears, lynx, and the yellow-billed cuckoo. The agency also failed to analyze the impact of the project on directly adjacent lynx critical habitat," Garrity explained.

"The agency also failed to disclose and demonstrate compliance with the agency’s own Forest Plan requirements for sage grouse from the 2003 Revised Forest Plan and 2015 Forest Plan amendment,” Garrity continued. “Nor did it analyze the cumulative effects on sage grouse as required by the Forest Plan and the National Environmental Policy Act."

"The Crow Creek pipeline proposal would result in wildlife displacement and habitat fragmentation in the regionally-significant wildlife corridor between Yellowstone National Park and the Uintas,” added Jason Christensen, Director of Yellowstone to Uintas Connection. “The project analysis fails to seriously take into account wildlife habitat fragmentation, illegal Off Highway Vehicle activity related to the proposed pipeline route and possible pipeline malfunction. Adding to that, the proposed mitigation measures to address the impacts are insufficient."

"The pipeline utility corridor will be, in actual effect, a permanent 18.2-mile motorized trail through five different National Forest Inventoried Roadless Areas and thus cause permanent vegetation removal, increased sight-lines for poaching, increased noxious weed introductions, and abundant new opportunities for illegal motor vehicle use in perpetuity,” Christensen explained. “That means motorized vehicles will use this corridor in perpetuity to maintain and inspect the pipeline and remove vegetation from lands that would be designated as wilderness under the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act currently before the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

"There are exactly zero benefits to public lands or wildlife from this project,” Garrity continued. “Just the opposite, in fact, as the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service stated that grizzly bears, lynx, Ute ladies’ tresses orchid, and yellow-billed cuckoo -- all of which are on the Endangered Species List -- may be present in the project area.

“This project is so inconsistent with the existing Forest Plan for these public lands that the Forest Service had to amend its Forest Plan for six different management prescriptions in order for the project to be lawful,” Garrity explained. “This site-specific amendment to change the management plan for the entire National Forest for the benefit of a private natural gas company is a classic example of what land use planners call ‘spot zoning.’ That means giving one person or entity special treatment while expecting everyone else to follow the rules. In essence, the federal taxpayers who own these public lands are subsidizing the profit margin of a private natural gas company at the expense of the ecological integrity of their public lands and wildlife."

“We gave the Forest Service plenty of opportunity to address these serious legal problems with the project by sending them a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue in January, and filing exhaustive public comments on the EIS before that," Garrity concluded. “Unfortunately the Forest Service did not reconsider its decision and we are left with no choice but to take the steps necessary to bring the project in compliance with federal law for the sake of our public lands and wildlife – especially the plants and animals on the Endangered Species list.”

Please find the complaint attached.

January 21, 2020

Conservation Groups send 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue to stop construction of natural gas pipeline in SE Idaho because it violates the Endangered Species Act

Click here to read the article.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Yellowstone to Uintas Connection sent a 60-day Notice Of Intent to Sue to the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today stating they will file a lawsuit to stop the Forest Service's decision to allow construction of the Crow Creek pipeline through six National Forest Inventoried Roadless Areas in southeast Idaho.

"Last November the Forest Service authorized a private company to clear-cut a 50-foot wide, 18.2-mile-long corridor for construction of an underground natural gas pipeline in southeastern Idaho,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “The Forest Service decision provides the private company with a 50-foot right-of-way during construction, and a permanent 20-foot right-of-way to maintain the pipeline. In addition to the pipeline itself and the utility corridor, there will also be above-ground facilities such as valves and staging areas."

"The pipeline utility corridor will be, in actual effect, a permanent 18.2-mile road through National Forest lands despite the fact that these public lands have been classified and protected as federal Inventoried Roadless Areas under the Clinton-era Roadless Rule,” Garrity explained. “That means motorized vehicles will use this corridor in perpetuity to maintain and inspect the pipeline and remove vegetation. The pipeline utility corridor will permanently cut through six different National Forest Inventoried Roadless Areas and thus cause permanent vegetation removal, increased sight-lines for poaching, increased noxious weed introductions, and abundant new opportunities for illegal motor vehicle use in perpetuity in these currently roadless areas that would be designated as wilderness under the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act currently before the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.”

"There are exactly zero benefits to public lands or wildlife from this project,” Garrity continued. “Just the opposite, in fact, as the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service stated that grizzly bears, Ute ladies’ tresses orchid, and yellow-billed cuckoo -- all of which are on the Endangered Species List -- may be present in the project area. The agency also found lynx and wolverine, which are candidates for Endangered Species listing, may be present in the area, which is also directly adjacent to federally designated Lynx Critical Habitat.”

“This project is so inconsistent with the existing Forest Plan for these public lands that the Forest Service will have to enact a formal amendment to its land management plan in order for the project to be lawful,” Garrity explained. “This site-specific amendment to change the management plan for the entire National Forest for the benefit of a private natural gas company is a classic example of what land use planners call ‘spot zoning.’ That means giving one person or entity special treatment while expecting everyone else to follow the rules. In essence, the federal taxpayers who own these public lands are subsidizing the profit margin of a private natural gas company at the expense of the ecological integrity of their public lands and wildlife."

"The Crow Creek pipeline proposal would result in wildlife displacement and habitat fragmentation in the regionally-significant wildlife corridor between Yellowstone and the Uintas,” added Jason Christensen, Director of Yellowstone to Uintas Connection. “The project analysis fails to seriously take into account wildlife habitat fragmentation, illegal OHV activity related to the proposed pipeline route, and possible pipeline malfunction. Adding to that, the proposed mitigation measures are insufficient."

“It’s important to note we are giving the Forest Service the opportunity to address the serious legal problems with this decision before actually filing a lawsuit,” Garrity concluded. “For the sake of our public lands and wildlife – especially the plants and animals on the Endangered Species list – we truly hope the Forest Service reconsiders its decision and takes the steps necessary to bring the project in compliance with federal law.”

Please find the 60-day Notice attached.