Here’s the website with the low down.
Thanks to the Denver Business Journal (Anya Litvak) for the heads up.
From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):
The case involves a challenge by Southwest Colorado ranchers and several other landowners to the water rules for gas and oil wells that the state engineer adopted early this year. Sarah Klahn, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said the rules should be overturned because many affected landowners never received legal notice that the state was about to pass rules that affect their groundwater. “Industry wants to say, here are the rules. We’re done. We win,” Klahn said in a hearing Friday. “It’s only fair that the landowners have the same opportunity to participate in this. We think the only way that’s going to happen is if it’s in Durango.”
If the case had gone to Durango, it would have been heard by Judge Gregory Lyman, who ruled against gas companies in the water rights case that set these events in motion. But lawyers for the state engineer’s office and gas companies argued that the case should be heard in Greeley, which is much closer to Denver – the seat of government and headquarters for many gas companies. “This case should be heard here, where the agency is located,” said First Assistant Attorney General John Cyran. “It is a matter of statewide importance.”[…]
The first lawsuit challenges the legal procedure the state engineer used to pass the rules. It was moved to Greeley on Friday.
The second lawsuit challenges the map the engineer adopted for Southwest Colorado to show where the industry has to take extra steps to replace the water it uses. Lawyers on both sides agreed Friday to put that lawsuit on hold until the first one is decided.
Separately, gas companies have filed 11 different applications for water rights in Durango’s water court. As part of those cases, the industry sent out notices by mail to hundreds of landowners earlier this year. Several landowners – as well as the city of Durango, the U.S. Forest Service and others – filed statements of opposition. Lyman will decide later whether to grant the water rights.
From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):
“We’re no longer in a surplus situation,” said Bill McDonald, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s deputy commissioner for policy and budget. “The teeter-totter has tipped.” Federal data show that the average annual use of Colorado River water (15.4 million acre-feet) has surpassed the average annual supply (14.5 million acre-feet) in the river…
“We actually have run up against what the river provides,” said Bart Miller, water program director for Western Resource Advocates, a law and policy firm. “Our choices moving forward have to be very careful ones. Brand new uses are going to have to be displacing other uses.”
Colorado still doesn’t use all of its 3.88 million acre-feet allotment under the interstate compact that governs use of the river. An acre-foot contains 325,851 gallons, enough to sustain two families of four for a year. State officials are trying to calculate the unused share. Estimates range up to 300,000 acre-feet. “Just because the Colorado River as a whole is overused” doesn’t necessarily prevent development in Colorado, said Eric Kuhn, manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “The lower states (California, Nevada, Arizona) are using far more than the upper states.”
More Colorado River Basin coverage here.
From the Flathead Beacon (Dan Testa):
“It will be energy, water and wildlife: That’s the values we share as Western governors,” Gov. Brian Schweitzer, WGA chairman, said. “It’s a continuation of the meetings that we’ve had, at least for the last six years.”
Legendary basketball coach and part-time Montana resident Phil Jackson, coming off the NBA championship, will also be on hand to give a keynote address Sunday, June 27, afternoon on how growing up in the West shaped his career and outlook on life…
The chief executives of 10 Western states are expected to attend the conference, which runs from June 27-29, including Wyoming’s Dave Freudenthal, New Mexico’s Bill Richardson, Colorado’s Bill Ritter and Idaho’s C.L. “Butch” Otter, the WGA’s vice chairman. Though earlier attendee lists included California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is no longer planning to make the trip. Gov. Benigno Fitial of the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth in political union with the U.S., and Gov. Felix Camacho of Guam, a U.S. territory, are also scheduled to attend. Special guests for the conference include Liang Shengli, lt. governor of China’s Guangxi Province, which is Montana’s sister province, and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk.