Energy policy — oil shale: Opposition lining up

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The town of Hayden is working through the water court process and plans to file in opposition to Shell’s December 30, 2008 filing for water on the Yampa River. Here’s a report from Blythe Terrell writing for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. From the article:

Resident Donna Hellyer asked the Town Board of Trustees last week to voice opposition to Shell, which wants to take 375 cubic feet per second of water during high flow periods. Hayden missed a deadline to file a statement of opposition, said Geoff Blakeslee, vice chairman of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Hayden trustees on Thursday asked town staff members to explore legal and other options. “The next level is make people understand we’re not in support of it,” Town Manager Russ Martin said Monday…

Meanwhile, Mark Jaffee has an background article — with a bit of speculation about the future of the Shell filing — running in the Denver Post. From the article:

A bid by the Shell Exploration and Production Co. for a 15 billion- gallon water right has sparked opposition letters from 25 federal, state and local agencies, along with businesses and environmental groups. The battle runs from Parker, which is seeking more water amid Front Range suburbs, to Dinosaur National Monument, where National Park Service officials worry that Shell’s plan to divert water for oil-shale development may hurt the park. Other objections filed with the Steamboat Springs water court came from a coal company, a power company, an agricultural ditch company and Cross Mountain Ranch, a hunting resort…

“There is a big target on the Yampa. Everyone is looking to tap into it,” said Glenn Porzak, a water lawyer for the city of Steamboat Springs. Water-rights applications usually generate no more than seven protest letters, Porzak said. The biggest case he was ever involved in had about 19. “This Yampa case is big,” he said…

Many of the groups filing opposition letters are just seeking more information — such as the one from the Colorado State Engineer. “We want to make sure that the water right isn’t speculative, that it will be put to a beneficial use and that Shell can and will develop the required infrastructure,” Assistant State Engineer Kevin Rein said. “There isn’t enough information in the application to do that.”[…]

Moffat County filed a letter because the proposed reservoir would bury a county road. “We just want to be part of the process to protect our citizens,” said Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray, who criticized the many letters from groups outside the river basin with no direct standing. “We hope the water court weeds out opposers who don’t have standing and who would not be harmed.”

Among the other filers and the issues they raise are:

• The federal Bureau of Land Management, which says Shell has not yet applied for rights of way through public land needed for its plan.

• The state Division of Wildlife, which is seeking more information on the potential impact of the water right on recovery plans for endangered fish species in the Yampa and Colorado rivers.

• The Colorado River Conservation District, which wants more detail on the impact of the proposed right on the state’s obligation to interstate water compacts.

The environmental groups filing include the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited and the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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