Contact: Dave Glenn, (307) 332-6700 ext 16 or (307) 349-1158 (cell)
Contact: Lori Weigel, (303) 433-4424 or (303) 324-7655 (cell)
Contact: Dave Hanks, (307) 362-3771
Contact: Drew Peternell, (303) 440-2937 ext 102 or (303) 204-3057 (cell)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Poll shows fierce Wyoming opposition to Flaming Gorge
Residents overwhelmingly reject idea of water pipeline, citing future state needs and environmental impact
Lander, WY — A new survey of Wyoming residents shows overwhelming opposition to a private developer's proposal to pipe water from the Flaming Gorge reservoir area across Wyoming to supply Front Range communities in Colorado.
An overwhelming 79 percent of respondents statewide oppose the pipeline after hearing a neutral explanation of the project.
Among the reasons respondents cited for their opposition: concern for future state water needs, support Flaming Gorge fish and wildlife habitat, and a belief that Colorado could do more to reduce demand, including conserving more water and improving their use of existing Colorado water supplies.
"I hope our politicians in Wyoming and Colorado are listening to these results," said Dave Hanks, CEO of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce. "Not just our local recreation economy will suffer if this pipeline goes through - Wyoming residents understand that our state's future growth and prosperity are at stake."
The phone survey was conducted July 31 to August 1 by Public Opinion Strategies, the largest public policy polling firm in the country. The survey is based on phone interviews with 400 registered voters across the state of Wyoming and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. Among the key findings:
- Among those who had heard about the proposed pipeline, just 8% said they supported it and fully 87% said they oppose it. Opposition is ubiquitous among all sub-groups of those who are aware of the proposal.
- Voters kept returning to the idea that there is "too much uncertainty" in Wyoming with drought, growth, and future needs to "give away" water.
- Significantly, the opposition was broad-based, reflected in every demographic group and cutting across partisan lines.
"There are few public policy issues which generate this level of intense opposition," said Lori Weigel, Partner with Public Opinion Strategies in the firm's Colorado office. "Wyoming voters in every part of the state and across the political spectrum reject this pipeline, and become stronger in that view the more they hear about the project."
The sportsmen's conservation group Tout Unlimited, which funded the survey, expressed concern that the project will lower water levels on the Flaming Gorge reservoir and on the famous Green River trout waters below the dam, damaging prized fish and wildlife habitat and reducing boating and rafting opportunities. That, in turn, could inflict sever economic losses on the Flaming Gorge region's $118 million a year outdoor recreation economy.
Dave Glenn with Wyoming TU said that he was "surprised and encouraged" by the numbers.
"We knew the Million pipeline was wildly unpopular in southwestern Wyoming and Utah, where the project would suck the life out of the local economy," Glenn said. "What surprised me was just how intense the opposition is throughout Wyoming. Clearly, folks don't want this pipeline taking Green River water or damaging recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat - they're going to fight this one all down the line."
Drew Peternell of Colorado TU said that the survey results should spur Colorado officials to look at cheaper, more feasible alternatives.
"The complex water challenges we face in the West do not lend themselves to single, 'silver bullet' solutions," said Peternell. "Instead, Front Range communities should work together to implement a range of more cost-effective and practical solutions to meeting future water needs, such as municipal conservation and reuse, voluntary and temporary water leasing arrangements, small-scale storage."
Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds