Stacy Tellinghuisen (Western Resource Advocates): ‘The Flaming Gorge Pipeline is a zombie’

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Western Resource Advocates (Jason Bane) sent this release via email:

In an unusual denial report, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) officially dismissed a preliminary permit application for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline this morning. This marks the second federal agency to dismiss an application from Aaron Million (in July 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers terminated its review of the pipeline proposal) and casts new doubts on whether the State of Colorado should continue to spend taxpayer money studying the flawed plan.

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline is a zombie,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, Water & Energy Policy Analyst at Western Resource Advocates. “It’s just staggering around looking for anything to latch onto to keep it alive, while everyone else is running away screaming.”

In its order dismissing a preliminary permit application from Aaron Million and Wyco Power and Water, Inc., FERC was clear that the project is nowhere near being ready for even an introductory review:

“Until some certainty regarding the authorization of the pipeline is presented, Wyco will not be able to gather and obtain the information required to prepare a license application for a proposed hydropower project. Therefore, there is no purpose under the FPA for issuing a permit to Wyco for its proposed hydropower project at this time. For this reason, Wyco’s preliminary permit application is dismissed as premature.”

Said Robert Harris, Staff Attorney with Western Resource Advocates: “I can’t recall ever seeing a similar decision. The rejection here isn’t being made on minor technical deficiencies, which is what happens most commonly. We’re pleased with this ruling because it essentially acknowledges that there are significant, fundamental holes in the basic premise of the pipeline proposal.”

The decision from FERC that the pipeline is not ready for additional review should inform other studies on this project, including discussion via an “exploratory committee” funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB ) last fall. Governor John Hickenlooper should take a new look at the necessity of continuing to use taxpayer-funded resources to explore the Flaming Gorge Pipeline.

“There are a lot of local governments, nonprofit organizations and individual stakeholders who came to this same conclusion a long time ago,” said Becky Long with Colorado Environmental Coalition. “The Flaming Gorge Pipeline idea just doesn’t make sense no matter how many different times you look at it, and that’s not going to change.”

Million had been seeking a federal permit from FERC to review his ‘Flaming Gorge Pipeline’ (FGP) proposal to pump 81 billion gallons of water a year for more than five hundred (500) miles from the Green River in Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado—all at a projected cost of $9 billion dollars (according to CWCB calculations). Western Resource Advocates (WRA) filed objections to the application in representing itself, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Colorado Environmental Coalition (CEC); in total, more than 5,000 objections were filed in December 2011 to Wyco’s proposal.

Opposition to the Flaming Gorge Pipeline has continued to grow since December. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has formally objected to the proposal, as have numerous local governments in both Colorado and Wyoming (such as Grand Junction, CO and Laramie, WY).

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

To read the FERC denial in full, go to: http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=12900017.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

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