FERC finds Flaming Gorge pipeline application deficient, raises jurisdictional questions

Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

One version of a proposed 500-plus-mile water pipeline from southwestern Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range was dealt a blow by a federal regulatory agency that found the application deficient on Wednesday.

The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) sent a letter to Fort Collins businessman Aaron Million requesting more information within a month, but FERC officials also appeared to have serious jurisdictional questions.

“Because the Commission would only have jurisdiction with regard to the proposed hydroelectric development, which is only one component of the proposed 501-mile-long water supply pipeline project, construction of substantial parts of the overall project may require permits from other federal agencies,” FERC officials wrote.

Million is on his second federal agency after having pulled his initial application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (pdf) and resubmitted to FERC (pdf) after adding the hydroelectric component.

Known broadly as the Flaming Gorge Pipeline, the project is one of two different proposals that would pull water from the Green River in Wyoming, below Flaming Gorge Reservoir, and pipe it east along Interstate 80 and south along Colorado’s Front Range.

Million argues Colorado has the right to take the water because the Green River passes briefly through western Colorado. Estimates have put the cost of the project between $7 billion and $9 billion, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board recently voted to spend some state money studying the proposal.

Conservation groups have argued the project would result in some of the most expensive water ever developed and cause irreparable harm to the environment and outdoor recreation economy in the region.

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