The strategy of switching federal agencies for the permitting of the Flaming Gorge pipeline project may not lead to a faster approval

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From WyoFile (Allen Best):

“(Million) has been suggesting that he could get this project done in a significantly shorter amount of time (through FERC). My [Matt Rice, director of Colorado conservation for American Rivers] first reaction is this: He’s totally forgetting about the federal hydropower licensing requirements under the Federal Power Act. The process can be incredibly complex, especially for a project of this size, geographic scope and complexity.”

Based on his experience working on hydropower projects seeking permits in South Carolina and Alabama, Rice expects a process that lasts at least a decade. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this project took at least 10 years…and more like 12 to 15 years,” he says. “Augusta, Ga., just got a license for a small project, and that process took more than 30 years.”

And before a permit is awarded by FERC, it must also get review under the applicable environmental laws – possibly including the Clean Water Act, which is what had triggered the original review by the Army Corps.

Million needed a section 404 dredge-and-fill permit under the provisions of that law because of proposed use of fill at Flaming Gorge Reservoir for his proposed take-out structure and possibly at other wetlands locations along the pipeline route.

A spokeswoman for the Army Corps describes a process that was delayed because of Million’s foot-dragging. “It had to do with the many delays and the applicant continuing to ask for more extensions and more time,” says regulatory specialist Rena Brand. “Toward the end of July, his group explained that they were thinking about moving to energy production.” And that, she said, meant a new purpose and need.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

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