HB 10-1188 (Clarify River Outfitter Navigation Right): Colorado Water Congress’ role

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Here’s an opinion piece penned by Charles White running in The Denver Post. Mr. White maintains that the CWC is the right organization to help shepherd the bill. From the article:

The Colorado Senate made the right decision in referring the contentious proposal to establish a “right to float” on the state’s waterways to the Colorado Water Congress. This was not, as suggested by The Post, a “punt” of the issues. Rather, it was a realistic recognition that more work is needed to address the serious flaws in the original bill. Under House Bill 1188…

The Colorado Water Congress is ideally suited to address each of these issues. Since 1957, it has brought divergent interest groups together to study, negotiate, and propose legislation on a wide variety of topics related to Colorado water. The CWC would convene a broadly representative panel to make recommendations for new legislation that could have much broader public support. This common-sense solution to the current impasse deserves The Post’s endorsement.

More HB 10-1188 coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Colorado Mined Land Recreation Board uranium mining rules public meeting recap

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Tom Hacker):

The seven-member Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board rented a spacious conference room at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Loveland, believing that controversy surrounding a uranium mining proposal in Northern Colorado would drive attendance. But two hours into the hearing, billed to run 1-9 p.m., only four people had shown up to offer testimony in the room that would accommodate more than 150. “I’m shocked,” board chairwoman Catherine Kraeger-Rovey said in an interview after declaring a recess following the four brief comments. “I was sure there would be more than this,” she said. “Where are they? I should have brought a book.” But by 5 p.m., the room had nearly filled with opponents of a Canadian mining company’s plan for a large mining operation in northwestern Weld County near Wellington…

“It’s not that I oppose nuclear power, or that I oppose mining,” Fort Collins resident John Dixon said. “This is about quality of the groundwater contained in an aquifer that’s within 15 miles of a population of 300,000 people.” Dixon said Powertech had failed in its assurances that groundwater quality would not be harmed during the mining process, nor in the early prospecting operations that pull water out of test bore holes to measure uranium content…

The reclamation board will gather public input in other Colorado communities affected by uranium development, including Grand Junction and Salida, and conclude its public comment period in Denver in June. The board will issue rules in July following hearings.

More coverage from the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Uranium mining proponents lambasted state mining regulators Thursday for attempting to stall any attempt to mine uranium in Northern Colorado, while others accused the mining industry of trying to weaken proposed uranium mining regulations…

The Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board’s proposed rules will govern how Powertech Uranium Inc. and other companies will be able to mine using a process called in situ leaching, or ISL mining. Powertech is proposing to open such a mine in Weld County, a few miles northeast of Fort Collins at the company’s Centennial Project site. The proposed rules will implement a 2009 state law requiring uranium mining companies to fully clean up groundwater near their mine sites after mining is complete. The rules are also expected to provide a measure of transparency to the uranium prospecting process and implement other environmental safeguards…

“This in situ mining is a great opportunity,” said Bill Bibbey of Greeley, who called the proposed rules onerous and too restrictive for mining companies. Comparing the rules to the recently-passed federal health-care bill, Bibbey said they’re full of pages of “stuff” meant to stall the mining process.

Likewise, University of Denver law professor and former uranium geologist K.K. DuVivier said in situ leach mining is a much cleaner method of extracting uranium than the underground mining methods used elsewhere in the West. Uranium, she said, is likely already in groundwater, and extracting it via in situ leaching won’t necessarily make water quality any worse. “I would just like to specifically say I have some concern about rules that really don’t help with monitoring the water, that are just there to delay things, to make it economically infeasible for Powertech to come in,” she said…

Cañon City resident Kay Hockley said she’s afraid that mining companies prospecting for uranium won’t be held to the same environmental standards as oil and gas explorers under the new rules. The rules, she said, don’t require companies to measure how pristine groundwater is prior to prospecting, preventing regulators and water well owners from ever knowing the true extent to which the mining companies have contaminated the groundwater.

More coverage from The Greeley Tribune (Colin Lindenmayer):

[Wallace Mays], the chief operating officer, chairman and director of Powertech USA, made a rare appearance Thursday at one of the many gatherings where residents have expressed opinions about the proposed uranium mine Mays hopes to build near Nunn. In his southern accent — Mays is from Texas — he explained he wanted to hear what the locals were saying about his company…

After three more public hearings hosted by the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board, Mays will have an opportunity to share his thoughts on the situation, which so far has raised loud opinions from several angles.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Wiggins: Town augmentation project update

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

Holbrook said a biological assessment of the water project was sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but it will take three to four weeks before the agency will send a letter to USDA on its findings. It would then take four to eight weeks for Industrial Facilities Engineering to put together bid-ready design documents for the USDA to look at, he said. Unfortunately, a representative of USDA said that even after the Wildlife Service approved the report the town must publish the report and wait for 30 days for any response, said Town Clerk Craig Trautwein. Then there must be a finding of no significant impact on the environment, which could take another 15 days. These waits for agencies could hinder the construction end date, because it sounds like it could take months before Industrial Facilities Engineering gets the go-ahead to do the final process design report to submit to USDA, Longcor said.

However, all of this waiting will be worth it for a potentially nice grant and a 40-year loan, Holbrook said. Wiggins Town Administrator Bill Rogers said parts of the project could run concurrently, which means the pumping station could be built at the same time as sections of the pipeline and various sections of the pipeline could be built simultaneously to keep the project on schedule.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.