Lander, Wyo. – The Sportsmen for the Green coalition welcomed a federal decision today that called into question the validity of a proposal to pipe water from southwestern Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced it was rejecting the preliminary permit application to study the feasibility of developing the Regional Watershed Supply Project, also known as the Million Pipeline. The agency cited a lack of information in the application, noting there was no purpose in issuing a permit at this time.
Joy Bannon, interim executive director at the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and member of Sportsmen for the Green, said this decision is an important victory.
“We’re happy with the permit dismissal,” she said. “In the West, water is our lifeblood. When you lose that, you lose more than just the water itself. You lose all the things associated with that water – hunting, angling, wildlife, habitat, agriculture. In the end, this isn’t just about water. It’s about all the things that go with it.”
While FERC has denied the preliminary permit application, it does not mean they are denying the project. Million now has the option to re-work and submit a new application.
“This is just another indication that this proposal is flawed from the outset,” said Charlie Card, Utah Backcountry Coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “Taking billions of gallons of our water and shipping it to Colorado comes at a price and if this proposal goes through, it’s hunters, anglers, agriculture and industry throughout the river corridor who will be paying that price, not to mention the multi-million dollar economies that rely these industries to keep them going.”
The proposed pipeline would take 81 billion gallons annually of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River and pipe it up to 560 miles to the Front Range of Colorado at an initial cost of up to $7-9 billion.
As proposed, this project stands to drop the levels at Flaming Gorge Reservoir so significantly that it could raise water temperatures and salinity levels, ruining a world-class kokanee salmon, rainbow and lake trout fishery. Additionally, the Green River could drop dramatically, destroying one of the country’s most popular and famous Blue-Ribbon fisheries. Local wetlands and recovery efforts for endangered species would be put at risk. As water levels drop, so too will access for anglers as millions will have to be spent re-building boat ramps, marinas and access points.
With so much at stake, Sportsmen for the Green remains adamant in its opposition to the project.
“We’re pleased that FERC has dismissed this application, but this project is unlikely to just go away,” said TU’s Walt Gasson, longtime Wyoming resident and conservationist. “Anyone concerned about Wyoming’s water should remain on high alert. Yogi Berra once said, ‘It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.’ And it ain’t over yet.”