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37,000 Letters to Salazar (So Far) on NV Water Pipeline

September 20, 2012

LAS VEGAS - With the Bureau of Land Management's window for final comments closing Oct. 1, opponents of the massive Las Vegas water pipeline project are reaching far and wide to plead their case.

As of today, says Rob Mrowka, Nevada conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, more than 37,000 letters have been written to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to deny the Southern Nevada Water Authority's right-of-way request to build the pipeline. Mrowka also is preparing new information for the BLM, but he's not optimistic, saying the bureau has failed to digest the mountains of information on negative impacts it already has.

"They've done a fairly good job of disclosing all of these hideous impacts that are going to occur. The problem now is that, in making their decision, they can ignore all of those environmental impacts and choose a very damaging alternative."

The current BLM plan eliminates drilling in Snake Valley, he says, but opponents say it does little to mitigate environmental damage.

Rose Strickland, water campaign coordinator for the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, says grassroots efforts also are under way to send a message to local decision makers in Las Vegas.

"This project is a pipe dream; it's an unacceptable financial burden to Las Vegas ratepayers, and it's an environmental disaster for the rest of Nevada."

Mrowka says ratepayers' fates may be tied to that of a tiny snail. His group filed suit last week, arguing that the four species of springsnail are under imminent threat from groundwater development.

"If Fish and Wildlife Service agrees and they are listed, then they become protected under the Endangered Species Act, which will make it much, much harder - if not impossible - to ever develop this groundwater project."

Mrowka says the appeals to Salazar will continue right up to the Oct. 1 deadline.

More information is online at biologicaldiversity.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV