Flaming Gorge pipeline: Conservationists are not convinced that the proposed feasibility study is worth even $72,000

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

“We are encouraged that the state will waste less taxpayer money on this study, but we still think it’s a complete waste of time and money even in its watered-down form,” said Gary Wockner of Save the Colorado.

“The pipeline would irrevocably harm the Green and Colorado Rivers, cost up to $9 billion, and negatively impact the West Slope’s economy. The state should spend the public’s money elsewhere.”

Here’s a joint release from Save the Colorado (Gary Wockner), the Colorado Environmental Coalition (Elise Jones) and Western Resource Advocates (Peter Roesmann):

At its Wednesday, September 14, 2011 meeting, the Colorado Water Conservation Board passed a diluted proposal to fund an exploratory study for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline. The original proposal was for $240,000 and multi-year meetings; the final proposal approved by the board funds just over $72,000 with only a few months of meetings. The watered-down proposal passed despite opposition from thousands of members of the public, a large coalition of environmental groups, taxpayer representatives, and West Slope businesses. Board members expressed many concerns, only some of which were addressed in the water-down version.

Our organizations continue to have numerous concerns about the project even in a scaled back form. While smaller, the proposal would still spend thousands of dollars in state funds to investigate a controversial and environmentally damaging project which thousands of Colorado citizens believe should not be funded at all. This week members of the Joint Budget Committee expressed their concerns over the project notably that this process seems to duplicate an existing efforts of the Interbasin Compact Committee.

Ultimately, a Flaming Gorge pipeline project entails enormous costs and infeasibility. We will continue to work with the CWCB, project proponents, water utilities and other stakeholders to further the important and difficult dialog around meeting Colorado’s future water needs, in ways that—unlike the Flaming Gorge pipeline—are cost-effective, feasible, and do-able in a short time frame.

Finally, Trout Unlimited released results today from a survey of Wyoming reaction to the proposed pipeline. From their release:

Public Opinion Strategies recently completed a statewide survey of voters throughout Wyoming regarding their perceptions of water. The survey results show that Wyoming voters are soundly opposed to a proposal to pump water from the Green River near Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Colorado communities and farms, and to eastern Wyoming. In fact, a majority are strongly opposed to the proposal, and opposition remains high even after hearing arguments in support of the project. After all additional information was provided, an overwhelming 90% of Wyoming voters reject the proposed pipeline.

Respondents in the survey and those in focus groups conducted earlier in Cheyenne indicate their opposition is founded in a concern for allowing Wyoming water to leave their state and an uncertainty over the state’s future needs due to drought or other conditions.

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.

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