From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):
Rep. Cory Gardner responded to criticism Tuesday from an environmental group, saying that opponents mischaracterized newly proposed legislation on water storage.
Gardner, said his bill would require regulators to approve or deny permits for reservoir projects within 270 days after a governor sends a letter to the federal government supporting a project. The congressman has criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for taking too long to approve the Northern Integrated Supply Project.
“Conservation is an important part of our water future in Colorado,” Gardner said. “But we also have to store more water.”[…]
Fort Collins-based Save the Poudre said Tuesday that Gardner’s bill would “gut” the National Environmental Policy Act and create a new bureaucracy within the Army Corps of Engineers called the “Office of Water Storage.”
“The National Environmental Policy Act is very clear: It requires sound science, and sound science takes time,” Save the Poudre director Gary Wockner said. “By forcing permitting in a certain time period, Congressman Gardner would be undermining and Gardner would be undermining and gutting the National Environmental Policy Act.”
Here’s the release from Congressman Gardner’s office:
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) led a water storage tour in Weld County this morning and announced that he would be introducing new legislation when Congress returns from its summer work period. Gardner said:
“Thank you to the many local and state officials who participated in the water storage tour this morning in Weld County and joined me in discussing the need for increased water storage in Colorado. The large presence of leaders in attendance demonstrates the need for immediate action on this issue.
“Water is one of the main drivers of economic growth in Colorado, and every industry in the state relies on this vital resource. I wish the federal government fostered a regulatory environment in which tours like the one I led this morning were not necessary, but that is simply not the case. The federal government has continued to stall important projects like NISP because of a permitting process in Washington, D.C. that creates bureaucratic regulatory barriers.
“The ongoing problems with water storage are why I plan to introduce a bill when Congress returns from its summer work period that fixes the broken permitting system. The legislation would establish an Office of Water Storage at the Army Corps of Engineers that would serve as the central hub for permitting decisions. This new office would coordinate with all agencies involved in the permitting and approval process for storage. The legislation would not call for circumvention of environmental reviews, but rather it sets a workable timeframe for an initial decision to be made on whether or not a project can move forward.
“I stand ready to work with any willing partners on this issue that is so important to all of Colorado and its communities.”