April 24, 2006

Bennett & Matheson Unveil Draft of Lake Powell Pipeline Legislation

On March 22nd, Sen. Bob Bennett [R-UT] and Rep. Jim Matheson [D-UT2] released the draft of their proposed legislation to create a water pipeline to Washington County from Lake Powell. Full text and a related map of The Washington County Growth and Conservation Act of 2006 are available at Bennett's Senate website and are mirrored on Zion Mojave Wilderness's site as well.

By combining the pipeline development with some national wilderness designation, BLM land sales (up to 25,000 acres, freeway construction, and off-road and recreational development, the bill is intended to bundle enough constituencies together to ensure quick passage.

One possible sticking point: the Utah Wilderness Coalition complained that the draft shortchanges conservation and wilderness issues at the expense of massive growth and development. In an open response to Bennett's draft, the UWC said that the public input and consensus building process originally begun under Governor Olene Walker had been abruptly halted in December 2004. Having been cut out of the drafting process, then the environmental groups are expressing serious reservations about the bill.

For his part, Senator Bennett says he wants to pair "responsible conservation strategies with Washington County's "phenomenal growth." In a press release, Sen. Bennett says, "This proposal is modeled after legislation authored by Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign of Nevada," and that successful bill, Bennett continues, can serve "as an example of how we can achieve the same kind of balanced growth in our own state."

Because if there's one thing Nevada and Las Vegas is known for, it's balanced growth.


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