Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

Project Healing Waters

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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Ray Ring reminds folks that there are still conservatives in the West and that they have a point some times, up at the GOAT:

Obama received more votes than the last Democratic candidate for president, John Kerry, in 404 of the 413 counties in the West, indicating that a new order may be taking command of the region's politics. That impression was reinforced on the congressional level: Western Democrats took three Senate seats that had been Republican (in Colorado, New Mexico and Oregon). They took at least six House seats from Western Republicans, while losing no Democratic seats in either chamber of Congress.

Democrats also gained more seats on public utilities commissions in Montana and Arizona, with candidates who vow to put more emphasis on development of wind and solar energy.

But Obama's hopeful message, his call for fundamental change and unification, will meet resistance in the West from here on out, especially on the level of local politics.

Out here in the West we can come together at times. Readers may remember the deal for management of the Colorado River during drought signed by Republican Dirk Kempthorne last year. He remarked, at the signing, "If the seven states of the Colorado River basin can get together and work out a deal, then surely anybody can."

The effort was jump started by Gale Norton during her tenure at Interior.

The President-Elect can implement changes at the Department of Interior without a lot of budget. President Obama should quickly outline his strategy for oil and gas development, oil shale, water and hydroelectric power. The infrastructure and expertise are in place in most places in our federal agencies to carry out policy in those areas. We think he should ask the states to develop local policy -- to supplement the federal effort -- and then roll up by watershed.

The Western states were carved out of the landscape as the nation had carved up the landscape east of the 100th meridian -- areas that did not require irrigation for the most part. John Wesley Powell warned about the, "capricious application of political boundaries," and urged that the West be organized by watershed.

Here's long list of possible Interior picks from Les Blumenthal and McClatchy Newspapers:

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash.
Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash.
Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.
Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles
Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer
Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal
Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
John Leshy, former Interior Department solicitor
Sally Jewell, CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc.

Thanks to Ed Quillen and the GOAT for the link.

It's interesting that Rep. Raul M. Grijalva didn't make the list. He was on the short list -- over the weekend -- according to the Washington Post. Kate Sheppard at the Grist and McJoan at the Daily Kos are leaning his way. He has Progressive credentials.

Here's a background article about former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles from Rhonda McBride writing for - Alaska. She writes:

What ever you feel about Knowles, you'll probably find little argument that he doesn't have a grasp of the issues that affect the state. "I think it would be a brilliant appointment, frankly, because of Knowles' managerial skills," UAA history professor Steve Haycox said. Managerial skills that are important to this job. Out of all the federal agencies the Interior Department may have the most impact on Alaska. It oversees 10 different offices and about 200 million acres -- roughly 60 percent of the state. "Alaska has more national park land than all the rest of the national parks put together," Haycox said...

For Lower 48 environmental groups Knowles might be seen as too pro-development. But some argue that his record as governor shows a balanced view of managing public lands. One example: His track record on dealing with cruise ships and water pollution. Knowles said he's not campaigning for the job, but he'd definitely consider it.

Alaska has had one previous Interior secretary, former Gov. Walter Hickel.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:57:56 PM    

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The comment period for the Supplemental Information Report for Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System is now closed, according to Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The comment period on the latest federal report on the Southern Delivery System ended Monday, with considerably fewer comments than the earlier draft environmental impact statement, which generated comments from more than 350 people.

The Supplemental Information Report, issued in early October, looks at issues of water quality, Western Slope impacts and dam failure analyses that were not addressed in the draft EIS.

Fourteen comments on the newest report had been received as of Monday morning, but more may have arrived throughout the day, said Kara Lamb, public information officer for Reclamation. There were also several comments made during a public meeting in Pueblo on Oct. 29. Reclamation is planning to post all of the comments online next week, Lamb said. The comments from the draft EIS already are available on the Web site. The report is the final step in Reclamation's evaluation of SDS...

The final draft environmental impact statement will address all of the comments made during the evaluation process, which began in February. The final EIS is expected by February, according to the latest time line on the Web site, although Reclamation officials have said it could be finished by the end of this year. A record of decision would be entered in March and public contract negotiations would begin. There would be a public comment period after the contract negotiations conclude...

The Pueblo County 1041 hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:20:53 AM    

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Here's an update on the lawsuit against Reclamation from Arkansas Native, LLC over the long-term contract between Reclamation and Aurora, from Chris Woodka and the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Federal attorneys claim the Bureau of Reclamation did nothing wrong when it issued a contract to use excess capacity in the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project last year. The Department of Justice also echoes Aurora's assertion that Arkansas River users suffered no injury from the contract in two filings Monday. Justice answered complaints about the contract filed by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Arkansas Valley Native LLC. The two users have sued in U.S. District Court in an attempt to nullify a contract between Aurora and Reclamation that facilitates the city's removal of water from the Arkansas Valley...

The opponents claim this is an improper use of Fry-Ark facilities and water, adding that 7,000 acres of farmland in the Arkansas Valley will be dried up as a result. Reclamation, in its answer Monday, says federal statutes and policies allow for the storage and transfer contract using excess capacity in the project. The Justice filing also claims that no Fry-Ark water is used and denies every allegation in both the Lower Ark and Arkansas Valley Native filings. The specific reference is dismissed out-of-hand by federal attorney James Dubois, who wrote: "The allegations ... constitute the plaintiff's characterization of the Fry-Ark Project, to which no response is required."

Reclamation admits that Aurora is not within the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and is therefore not entitled to Fry-Ark water. However, the officials contend that "Aurora receives no water furnished to the district from the project water supply," according to the filing.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:13:51 AM    

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