SALT LAKE CITY — Federal regulators rejected a request to revisit their decision denying a preliminary application for a controversial pipeline that would divert Green River water before it reaches Flaming Gorge Dam.
The decision announced Thursday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider components of the so-called "Million" pipeline was lauded by multiple environmental groups.
"The Flaming Gorge Pipeline has been rejected more than a freshman before prom," said Stacy Tellinghuisen, water and energy policy analyst with Western Resource Advocates. "It doesn't matter how you try to alter the proposal or whose name is on top. You can change the wording. You can change the font. You can print it on a different color paper. It's still too expensive, too harmful to the environment, and just not necessary for meeting future water demands."
In its announcement of the decision, FERC said the denial of Wyco Power and Water's request for a rehearing means its dismissal of the application on Feb. 23 for being incomplete still stands.
The application for Wyco to study the feasibility of the pipeline — described officially as the Regional Watershed Supply Project — lacked concrete information such as the route or if any authorizations from land managers had been sought, according to the FERC decision. Also incomplete were details about the locations of its proposed hydropower stations.
Aaron Million, a Fort Collins, Colo., entrepreneur who is pushing the project, said trying to provide that kind of detail this early in the process is premature — it needs more research.
Under what he has proposed, the pipeline would take water out of the Green River before it is impounded by the Flaming Gorge Dam and pipe it over to the Front Range of Colorado.
Million said federal studies support the sustainability of such a withdrawal of water, and it could be conveyed to growing populations in Colorado.
Critics such as Protect the Flows, a coalition of hundreds of businesses that depend on the Colorado River and its tributaries to survive, say the pipeline would be too costly and too damaging to the environment.
Wyco has 60 days to file an appeal of Thursday’s decision with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.