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Aaron Million wants Flaming Gorge pipeline reconsidered

Published: Friday, March 23 2012 5:36 p.m. MDT

The Flaming Gorge Reservoir near the Wyoming/Utah border would be the starting point of the "MIllion" pipeline to Colorado.

Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Aaron Million wants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider his proposal for a pipeline that would tap water from Flaming Gorge in Wyoming and convey it across the Front Range of Colorado to a proposed reservoir near Pueblo.

In a document filed Friday requesting a rehearing before the agency, Million argued that FERC should question if it erred by tossing his application for a permit in February on the basis that it was "premature" or incomplete.

He compared the permit for his 501-mile buried pipeline to one submitted to the same agency for the proposed Lake Powell pipeline in Utah — saying the preliminary applications in both instances were similar — yet Lake Powell received the go-ahead, and his project did not.

Million said the agency needs to consider if it let the amount of comments and objections on record by multiple agencies unduly sway the commission. Opponents like the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service, Sweetwater County and Colorado Springs Utilities — as well as numerous conservation organizations — have asked the commission to legally recognize objections raised.

When the commission dismissed the preliminary permit application for Million's Regional Watershed Supply Project, the agency said until the pipeline is built and authorizations are in place, it would be premature move the hydropower project forward.

"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.

Such a requirement, he added, is counterproductive and cost prohibitive absent knowing where the hydroelectric components would be sited.

Million's proposal, which has been met with a flurry of criticism by a wide swath of groups, involves diverting water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and from the Green River in Wyoming. Before its end near Pueblo, Colo., seven hydropower projects that include pumped storage and turbines would be placed in the water-supply pipeline that would traverse federal lands.

Opponents said Million should take his cue from the agency and cease trying to push his flawed proposal forward.

“The developer’s application for a rehearing is a waste of taxpayer dollars," said Michael Hiatt, an attorney with Earthjustice. “It’s hard to understand how he thinks going back to the same federal agency that just turned him down cold with the same proposal will help him."

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com, Twitter: amyjoi16

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