Vegas blinks

Posted on | August 20, 2009 | 3 Comments

imagesBREAKING NEWS: The much vaunted “up or down” vote  on the proposed Great Basin pipeline that General Manager Pat Mulroy reportedly demanded of her board at the Southern Nevada Water Authority today descended into a long, polite and more than a little bit bizarre political retreat. Rather than confront her board to commit to the pipeline, as it was reported that Mulroy would do by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mulroy instead asked it for permission to do what she was doing already: Cooperating with the ongoing US Bureau of Land Management environmental review process and hammering out a Snake Valley monitoring agreement.

Why the damp squib, or as board members called it, the “misunderstanding?” The normally accurate R-J reporter Henry Brean may have invented a non-existent showdown*, duly followed up on by its editorial pages and those of the Las Vegas Sun. Or someone might have pointed out to Mulroy the unseemliness of demanding that her board approve a project that has not yet been cleared under the National Environmental Policy Act. Or Mulroy might actually have thought better than to dare her board vote on a project that as yet has no fixed price tag.

At any rate, at 12.57pm, the Board of the Southern Nevada Water Authority voted unanimously to approve these two motions to do with the proposed Great Basin pipeline:

7. … Direct staff to proceed with state and federal permitting processes, fulfill the requirements of stipulated agreements, and complete the necessary biologic and hydrologic monitoring efforts to support these activities.

8. Authorize the General Manager to execute, in materially the same form, the Agreement for Management of the Snake Valley Groundwater System among the State of Nevada, the State of Utah and the Authority, and the Snake Valley Environmental Monitoring and Management Agreement between the State of Utah and the Authority.

Selected quotes from more than 40 public comments, along with remarks from the Board, may be found at “Pipeline, what pipeline?”

*UPDATE: Henry Brean writes: “The board members made a big show of saying that today’s vote was not on whether or not to build the pipeline, and technically that is correct. However, had they voted today not to continue with the EIS [environmental impact statement] and permitting process, the project would stop. And not merely the part of it in Snake Valley, but all of it since the EIS concerns the entire pipeline right of way. Of course, no one expected them to do anything other than exactly what they did, and I think I made that clear in my reporting leading up to today’s vote. The tone of your blog post suggests otherwise, though. The implication is that I and the R-J mislead people. I, of course, strongly disagree with that.”

This post, which began live during the board vote, has been updated repeatedly. Last update: 6.30am August 21, 2009


3 Responses to “Vegas blinks”

  1. Jim Deacon
    August 21st, 2009 @ 11:29 am

    I saw an interesting dichotomy yesterday at the hearing. Every one there wanted a sustainable project. Proponents for the pipeline defined sustainable as approximately 30 to 50 years. Opponents defined sustainable in terms of thousands of years. Folks that live on the land seem to intuitively understand that nature operates over very long time periods.

  2. admin
    August 21st, 2009 @ 11:49 am

    I agree. It was striking in many of the remarks urging the SNWA board to invest in new conservation technologies and the board seemed receptive.

  3. Sierramompty
    August 23rd, 2009 @ 11:00 am

    As someone who does not reside in Nevada and a person who sees water as a vital human resource, the Great Basin water project interests me deeply. Northern California now faces a similar situation with Gov. Arnie wanting to run a pipeline as large as the Panama Canal from the Sacramento Delta to Southern California. When do we, as a people, begin to look at basic human needs, priorities? Are lawns, golf courses, fountains and living in a subdivision in the desert more important than drinking water and personal day-to-day basic living needs? Does the “top dollar” always win? At this point in our history, I am sad to say, it appears it does.

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