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River Groups Call “Climate Denial” on Lake Powell Pumped Hydro Projects

Pumped Hydro Storage
Case No.
Project Nos. 14992-000, 14994-000, 15001-000
Date Filed
November 18, 2019
State, Venue
District of Columbia, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
Michael Hiatt (Earthjustice), Samantha Ruscavage-Barz
Guardians is part of a coalition that intervened in FERC’s preliminary permit process for several “pumped hydro” projects that would draw water from Lake Powell to generate electricity. These projects propose building dams and hydropower stations above Lake Powell to pump water up from the Lake and then run it back down into the Lake through hydropower turbines. These massively expensive projects, proposed by private corporations, would rely on the future stability of Lake Powell and the Colorado River at the exact time that climate scientists predict that the Colorado River’s flows will continue to decrease, and the exact time that water managers struggle to implement a highly speculative and expensive “drought management plan” to stabilize Lake Powell. Scientists predict that warming climate will diminish Colorado River flows 20 percent through the course of the century, so these schemes to save-the-planet by pumped hydropower are not the answer when a water crisis is just around the corner and other renewable options, like solar, are more economical and available.

These Projects are potentially infeasible because Lake Powell is already compromised by climate change. And these Projects could impact the endangered humpback chub and important cultural resources. Guardians intends to follow these Projects through the permitting process if FERC grants the preliminary permits.