Flaming Gorge pipeline application denied

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday rejected an application for a proposed 500-mile pipeline project that sought to pump water from Wyoming to the Front Range.

In response, the developer said he would seek a re-hearing.

If it had been approved, the application by Wyco Power and Water Inc. would have allowed it to move forward with plans to pump water from the Green River in Wyoming. The commission is the second federal agency to deny the Flaming Gorge Project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers terminated its review of the pipeline in July.

Conservation groups have opposed the project, which they contend would decrease flows of the Green River by around 25 percent. They characterized the regulatory commission’s decision as a major blow to the project.

“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline is no closer to reality today than it was 10 years ago,” Stacy Tellinghuisen, water and energy policy analyst at Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, said in a statement. “This denial essentially says that the pipeline proposal is nowhere near being ready for even a preliminary permit.”

Gary Wockner, director of Save the Poudre, said the project would harm the Colorado River, which is fed by the Green River.

“We’re not going to be able to use pipeline schemes to meet our water supply demands,” he said. “We’re going to have to focus on common sense solutions, including water conservation and water sharing with farmers.”

The project also has seen opposition from businesses. In January, a group of more than 250 businesses from seven states formed a coalition to stop the pipeline. They contended that the pipeline would drain valuable water needed for outdoor activities such as fishing and rafting.

FERC said it was dismissed the application because it was premature.

“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 (Federal Power Act) for issuing a permit to Wyco for its proposed hydropower project at this time,” FERC energy projects director Jeff Wright said in a letter sent Thursday.

Despite Thursday’s action, the developer of the proposed project, Aaron Million, said he will submit engineering and routing information to FERC as soon as possible.

“The FERC dismissal has zero to do with us moving forward,” Million told the Denver Post.

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