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Critics from surrounding states raise opposition to Flaming Gorge pipeline

Critics from surrounding states raise opposition to Flaming Gorge pipeline


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SALT LAKE CITY — Ten conservation groups from four Western states are lining up in opposition to a plan that would take water from the Green River before it reaches Flaming Gorge and pipe it to the front range of Colorado.

Once dubbed the "Million" pipeline after its proponent Aaron Million — the proposal under federal review is officially called the Regional Watershed Supply Project. It has also been reconstituted to be a hydropower project, shifting a preliminary application from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC is currently evaluating a preliminary permit application for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline from Wyco Power and Water Inc., and the public with a stake in the process has been filing comments on the process this month.

“The Green River flows through Utah’s largest roadless area, provides 40 percent of the water entering the Colorado River at Lake Powell each year, and supports a world-famous trout fishery averaging 6,000 to 8,000 fish per mile” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council. “This catastrophic proposal would not only mar these treasures, it would forever alter life in Utah.”


The Flaming Gorge Pipeline would be one of the biggest, most environmentally damaging water projects in the history of the western United States.

–- McCrystie Adams, Earthjustice


Critics from Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming cite far-reaching impacts that would devastate the Green River — from jeopardizing endangered or threatened species of fish to sucking up precious water supplies for downstream users.

"The Flaming Gorge Pipeline would be one of the biggest, most environmentally damaging water projects in the history of the western United States," said McCrystie Adams of Earthjustice, the group's lead attorney.

Since its inception, the controversial Flaming Gorge Pipeline has met with opposition in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The water would go to the Front Range of Colorado which is projected to double in population in the next 50 years. Although the project would be privately financed, critics say the end water would be so publicly expensive it wouldn't be viable. It also smacks at tapping water that river watchers say is already over allocated.

"The coalition believes that Colorado and other western citizens are beginning to realize that unbridled consumption of water from our rivers and aquifers will leave our precious water resources depleted, leading to even more severe water shortages for our children and grandchildren," said Duane Short of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. "We hope the public will work with us to prevent this shortsighted and irresponsible water grab.”

Million has said that the water his project proposes to take from the Green River in Wyoming is sustainable, according to a review of water resources by federal water managers with oversight of Flaming Gorge.

Email: aodonoghue@ksl.com

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Amy Joi O'Donoghue

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