ERC: Flaming Gorge pipeline granted rehearing

After squelching what it called a “premature” proposal by entrepreneur Aaron Million to build a buried 500-mile water pipeline between Flaming Gorge and Pueblo, Colo., the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has announced it would grant the proposal a rehearing.

The rehearing comes despite multiple protests from environmentalist groups, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service, Sweetwater County, Colorado Springs Utilities and others. Opponents claim it would damage the ecosystem surrounding Flaming Gorge, thereby damaging the $118 million local outdoor economy.

In his rehearing request, Million invoked the approved, 139-mile Lake Powell Pipeline, which will cost $1.064 billion and be finished in 2020. He said his preliminary proposal was similar to the Lake Powell Pipeline, but while Lake Powell got a green light, Million’s Wyco Power and Water Inc. was stopped on red.

“The commission’s order implies that the final pipeline alignment, all authorizations to construct the pipeline and even the construction of the pipeline should be completed prior to filing an application for a preliminary permit” Million’s rehearing request said.

The request goes through the FERC because of proposed hydropower generation installations where the water in the pipeline flows downhill, which would help defray the project’s multibillion-dollar price tag. Million may make $1.4 billion in profit if the pipeline is ultimately approved.

The FERC stated in its official order granting a second chance for Million at some future date that the rehearing will be “for the limited purpose of further consideration.”

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