Opposition to Wyco Water and Power’s Flaming Gorge Pipeline straddles the Colorado-Wyoming-Utah borders and includes the National Park Service

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First up is a release from Western Resource Advocates calling the project a boondoggle:

Western Resource Advocates (WRA) announced that it is filing formal objections today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding the proposed ‘Flaming Gorge Pipeline.’ The objections are being filed by WRA along with the Colorado Environmental Coalition and the National Parks Conservation Association.

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline has more unanswered questions than a Presidential debate,” said WRA Water Attorney Robert Harris. “The bottom line is that there is no good reason for FERC to contemplate the proposal. The pipeline idea is getting messier by the day, and it’s not going to get cheaper or more realistic in the future.”

Aaron Million, President of Wyco Power and Water, Inc., is seeking a federal permit from FERC to review his ‘Flaming Gorge Pipeline’ (FGP) proposal to pump water more than five hundred (500) miles from the Green River in Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado.

The objections to a potential FERC permit as filed by WRA focus on four points:

1. Ridiculously Expensive: The Colorado Water Conservation Board estimates that the project would cost $9 billion, which would easily qualify the FGP as the most expensive water project in Colorado history. The 2011 General Fund for the entire state of Colorado is about $7.4 billion.

2. Unnecessary and Illegal Water Hoarding: There is simply no need for the FGP. If it proceeded, the project would be open to charges of water hoarding [ed. speculation], which is against state law.

3. Against the Public Interest: There is no scenario in which the FGP could be completed in an
environmentally-safe manner, and there is widespread opposition to the proposal in both Wyoming
and Colorado. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, among others, has publicly condemned the project.

4. Wyco and Million are Unsuitable Applicants: Mr. Million and Wyco Power and Water have a history of missing deadlines and failing to provide complete information; in July 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers terminated Million’s application for these reasons.

“The real shame of this entire process is that it is a distraction from discussions of much more reasonable and cost-effective water supply projects that Wyoming and Colorado can implement already,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, Energy & Water Policy Analyst at WRA. “If Wyco or any other company wants to go off chasing unicorns, they should do it on their own time and their own dime.”

Becky Long, organizer for the Colorado Environmental Coalition, said: “Citizens across Colorado and Wyoming think this project is a bad idea. Multiple cities and counties in both states have publicly condemned the plan, and a recent survey by the sportsmen’s group Trout Unlimited showed that almost 80% of Wyoming residents opposed the proposal.”

The complete filing from WRA will be available this afternoon on the FERC website and at www.WesternResources.org.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
On September 1, 2011, Mr. Aaron Million of Wyco Power and Water, Inc. applied to FERC for a permit application for the Regional Watershed Supply Project proposal (generally referred to as the Flaming Gorge Pipeline, or FGP). Two months earlier, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers terminated its review of the project, citing Million’s failure to meet required deadlines to provide information. Wyco applied to FERC under the premise of reclassifying the FGP as a hydropower project, but because it is primarily a water-delivery system, FERC only has limited jurisdiction and cannot approve the entire project.

The FERC deadline for public comments and ‘Motions to Intervene’ is December 19, 2011. If FERC eventually decides to consider permitting for the FGP, it would begin a 3-year study period of the project. Before the FGP could begin to be constructed, Wyco would almost certainly need a permit from multiple additional federal agencies, such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. At some point, Wyco would also likely need to resubmit an application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For More Information on the Flaming Gorge Pipeline, go to:
http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/water/pipeline/million.php

To access FERC Submissions/Filings directly, go to:
http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20111013-5035

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Federal authorities deciding whether to grant a preliminary permit for the project proposed by Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million have received more than 170 mostly negative comments on the proposal.

But Million said he’s undaunted. He said he’s talking with energy-industry representatives about using the water for oil and gas production. The pipeline to move up to 200,000 acre-feet of water a year could sustain water-intensive hydraulic-fracturing operations in Wyoming and Colorado, Million said. “We’ve heard rough figures of 15,000 to 20,000 acre-feet annually for fracking needs,” Million said. “If this new water supply helps with the fracking issues, then, without question, we would consider delivering water for the industry.”[...]

“A preliminary permit does not authorize construction or operation of a project,” federal regulatory commission spokeswoman Celeste Miller said. “All it does is give you priority over a site for three years to study feasibility.”[...]

The Colorado Environmental Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association and Western Resource Advocates on Thursday were filing formal objections to the project. Another coalition of 11 environmental groups, including Sierra Club, Wyoming Outdoor Council and Save the Poudre, also objected…

“If (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) takes on this application, they will be using taxpayer dollars and resources to look into the project,” [Stacy Tellinghuisen, an energy and water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates] said. “This is a totally unrealistic project.”

Writer Bobby Magill posted a link to the City of Fort Collins letter to FERC on his website. Also, according the Magill’s Twitter feed (@bobbymagill), “DOI Comments on #FlamingGorgePipeline: NPS worries lower flows in Green River could hurt Dinosaur National Monument”

More coverage from Brandon Loomis writing for The Salt Lake Tribune. Here’s an excerpt:

A coalition of 10 conservation groups is seeking to intervene in a federal permitting process for a proposed pipeline that would take water from the Green River to Colorado’s Front Range…

Groups, including the Utah Rivers Council and the Wyoming Outdoor Council, formed the Colorado River Protection Coalition to advocate against the project, which they argue would imperil endangered fish and water rights in Utah. “This catastrophic proposal would not only mar these treasures, it would forever alter life in Utah,” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

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