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Opposition Mounts Against the Lake Powell Pipeline

January 13, 2020
Jen Pelz, 303-884-2702, jpelz@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
#CORiver, #ForceForNature, #LivingRivers, #ProtectWhatYouLove, #RethinkRivers, #StopExtinction
Moab, Utah—In order to protect and restore a living Colorado River, WildEarth Guardians and a coalition of green groups led by Living Rivers submitted comments opposing the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline and urging the environmental review be postponed until key agreements and actions on the Colorado River are resolved. The pipeline is a misguided effort by the State of Utah to divert and pipe water from Lake Powell through northern Arizona to serve growing populations in St. George and Kanab, Utah.

“The Colorado River is tapped out,” said Jen Pelz, the wild rivers program director at WildEarth Guardians. “The Lake Powell Pipeline is part of the Upper Basin state’s feeding frenzy to squeeze every last drop out of the river before reality sets in and someone finally says enough-is-enough. The glory days are over.”

The letter submitted by Living Rivers (Colorado Riverkeeper), Conserve Southwest Utah, WildEarth Guardians, Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc., Save the Colorado, and the Center for Biological Diversity details numerous issues and environmental harms that would arise if the project goes forward. The groups concerns include: 1) the impact of climate change on river flows and water availability; 2) the cumulative effects of other Upper Basin proposed and permitted projects including the Windy Gap Firming Project, Moffat Collection System, etc.; 3) the exploration of alternatives to the project including water conservation measures to meet the stated need; and 4) the harm caused by taking more water out of the Colorado River on listed endangered and threatened species, like the Humpback chub, Razorback sucker, Bonytail chub, Colorado River Pikeminnow, Southwestern willow flycatcher and yellow-billed cuckoo.

“Given the recent efforts in the Upper Basin to ensure water for Lake Powell to deal with the imminent shortage, it is crazy that a diversion project of this scale is even on the table,” added Pelz. “The climate crisis is amplifying all the flaws in our current water allocation system. We need to find a new path forward, learn to live within the rivers means, and value and permanently dedicate water for river health and the environment.”

While the environmental review process for the Lake Powell Pipeline just began, the future of this and other similar public processes under the National Environmental Policy Act were called into question last week when the Trump Administration proposed ’s significant rollbacks to this key environmental and public process law. Like the Administration’s similar attempts to gut other fundamental laws—including the Clean Water Act, the Freedom of Information Act, Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, among others—these new regulations attempt to ease the review requirements, limit the analysis of climate change, remove considerations of cumulative impacts, and fast-track or exempt projects (like the Lake Powell Pipeline) from such reviews.

“The National Environmental Policy Act is one of the most vital checks on extractive industries, including those who seek to drain western rivers and destroy stunning western landscapes,” added Pelz. “We are not going to stand by and let Trump destroy our quality of life and the survival and recovery of the planet’s ecosystems by giving this gift to industry.”

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WildEarth Guardians (www.wildearthguardians.org) is a conservation non-profit whose mission is to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, and over 275,000 members and supporters worldwide. Follow Guardians on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

Other Contact
Sarah Stock, Living Rivers, (435) 260-8557, sarah.livingrivers@gmail.com