By Jim Stanford on November 28, 2011
Apparently unaware that Wyoming legislators can make it rain (or snow) by pumping $14 million into cloud seeding, Colorado businessman Aaron Million is pressing ahead with his proposal to pump water some 500 miles from Flaming Gorge Reservoir over the Continental Divide to Colorado’s Front Range.
In a bit of procedural sleight of hand, Million has shifted his application from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, now claiming the project will produce hydropower. In doing so he seeks whichever federal agency is most likely to give the plan a favorable review.
Former Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal opposed the pipeline, as does his successor, Gov. Matt Mead. Sportsmen from southern Wyoming and northern Utah also have ridiculed the plan, which would divert 250,000 acre feet of water — or about 30 percent of the storage capacity of Jackson Lake, for a comparison — from the Green River Basin each year, into the eastbound Platte Basin.
The staggering price tag — $3 billion by Million’s estimation, up to $9 billion by other projections — regulatory hurdles and widespread doubts make it unlikely the pipeline ever will be built. But we never can be too vigilant, so click here to submit an eComment to FERC. The docket number for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline is P-14263, and the deadline is Dec. 16.
WyoFile has a thorough story on the pipeline and background of Western water projects, although it seems to hold Million, arrested earlier this year for allegedly stalking his ex-girlfriend — in too high regard.
What’s really galling is that this proposal already has consumed several years of “study” by the Army Corps, at considerable expense to taxpayers. The Colorado Water Conservation Board has allocated $72,000 out of a possible $250,000 to investigate it further.
At what point is a scheme so outlandish that it can be dismissed out of hand? If I proposed dismantling Pikes Peak, stone by stone, and reconstructing it next to the Grand Teton to meet increased demand for tourism and recreation, would the U.S. Forest Service and Park Service spend years considering the idea?
Million has pitched his plan as a public-private partnership, and we all know who usually winds up with the tab. In this case, with federal and state agencies continuing to squander resources pondering a pipe dream — funds every bit as precious as water in the desert — taxpayers already have lost.