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PRESS RELEASE: Colorado River Groups Call ‘Climate Denial’ On Pumped Hydro Project

For Immediate Release
March 16, 2020
Contact:
Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310
Jen Pelz, WildEarth Guardians, 303-884-2702

Colorado River Groups Call ‘Climate Denial’ On Pumped Hydro Project

Climate Change Makes Lake Powell Unreliable Source of Renewable Energy

DENVER—Today, two conservation groups – Save The Colorado and WildEarth Guardians – moved to intervene in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) preliminary permit process for the “Navajo Pumped Storage Hydropower Project” (Project) on Lake Powell.

The Project proposes to build a $3.6 billion hydropower station above Lake Powell that pumps water up from the Lake and then runs it back down into the Lake through hydropower turbines to generate electricity. The massively expensive Project 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.

“We believe in climate change and climate science,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado. “FERC should deny this application because Lake Powell is doomed – it’s nonsensical to build a $3.6 billion straw into the Lake that will likely end up sucking air.”

The Project is proposed by a private corporation – Daybreak Power – that proposes to use the transmission lines and other infrastructure from the now-closed Navajo Generating Station coal-fired powerplant for its operations, which sits on the mesa above the Colorado River near Page, Arizona. The climate in the area is one of the sunniest in the U.S.

“Our warming climate is predicted to diminish Colorado River flows 20 percent through the course of the century,” said Jen Pelz, Wild Rivers Program Director at WildEarth Guardians. “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.”

The comment period for intervenors closed today. The two groups intend to follow the Project through the permitting process if FERC grants the preliminary permit.

The groups’ motion is posted here: (link)

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About the co-plaintiffs:

Save the Colorado is a grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and restore the Colorado River and its tributaries. For more information please visit: www.savethecolorado.org.

WildEarth Guardians 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. For more information please visit: www.wildearthguardians.org.

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