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Clark County Lands Bill Draft Clears Way for Vegas Pipeline

For Immediate Release
August 23, 2019
Contact: Kyle Roerink
702-324-9662


Baker, NV –– The Great Basin Water Network released the following statement after sending a letter to the Nevada Congressional Delegation this week addressing the environmentally destructive, pro-pipeline provisions in the discussion draft of the Southern Nevada Conservation and Development Act, also known as the Clark County Lands Bill.

Tribes, farmers, ranchers, small businesses, conservationists, and others have been fighting for 30 years against the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposal for a 300-mile pipeline to siphon 58 billion gallons of water annually from surface and groundwater sources near Great Basin National Park, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, and other pristine public lands.

The Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) and other organizations have won on multiple occasions in state and federal court against SNWA’s destructive pipeline proposal. Now in the Clark County Lands bill, SNWA seeks to exempt the pipeline from further administrative and judicial review within federal agencies and federal court, while also giving the agency the ability to receive ownership of public lands on which it has water infrastructure.

“In 2017, a federal judge found the pipeline proposal violates the Clean Water Act and the Federal Land and Policy Management Act,” said Kyle Roerink, executive director of GBWN. “SNWA is trying to re-write the laws to allow their destructive pipeline and remove barriers that were enacted to protect Nevadans and their public resources. Members of the delegation should not do SNWA’s dirty work by gutting bedrock environmental protections to pave the way for a project that will kill endangered species, mine groundwater, and siphon away Eastern Nevada’s future in return for sprawl.”

  • See the pro-pipeline provisions in the lands bill in Sections 802 (a) and 804 in the discussion draft of the lands bill dated May 10, 2019
  • See the attached letter
  • See latest op-ed on the issue

BACKGROUND ON LANDS BILL

In June 2018, Clark County Commissioners approved a resolution to have county officials work on public lands legislation with the understanding that it would ultimately be handed off to the congressional delegation. The current makeup of the Clark County Commission did not vote on the resolution. The bill would have significant effects on the future of southern Nevada, including selling off public lands, extending the County’s desert tortoise permit, and expanding Las Vegas’s urban boundary. Members of the congressional delegation have not yet introduced the bill.

Public lands bills in Nevada have a controversial history. The Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act of 2004 instructed BLM to give SNWA a Right of Way to build the pipeline with the caveat that it be subject to bedrock environmental laws.


Press Coverage

August 27, 2019 — Environmental groups argue lands bill will exempt Las Vegas pipeline from judicial review; water authority disagrees — Environmental groups are raising concerns over a provision in draft legislation they believe could exempt the Las Vegas pipeline — a proposal to pump eastern Nevada groundwater about 300 miles to Southern Nevada — from further litigation and federal environmental review — thenevadaindependent.com (More Coverage)

August 23, 2019 — [Commentary — By Kyle Roerink] Delegation must not carry SNWA’s water for Las Vegas pipeline — Officials at the Southern Nevada Water Authority want the state’s congressional delegation to do their dirty work for them. A legislative proposal that serves as a federal wish list for Clark County–– including the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) –– has provisions which would partially enable and authorize the long-contested Las Vegas water grab pipeline. The proposal –– as outlined in a discussion draft put forward by Clark County –– circumvents bedrock environmental laws in order to pave the way for the 300-mile pumping and piping project to siphon 58 billion gallons of water annually from Eastern Nevada in perpetuity — nevadacurrent.com

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