The week of January 8, Commissioner Moyer flew to Washington DC after being invited by The Executive Office of the President. He was asked to give comments and perspective on the proposed new Waters of the U.S. definition and how it will impact Rio Blanco County and the west in general. His conversation and the focus of his input was on how the waters of the west are different than the waters of the east and other parts of the US, and how we operate in a ‘first in time, first in right’ structure. Commissioner Moyer’s goal was to encourage the EPA and the Corps of Army Engineers to avoid taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to regulating waters.
Commissioner Moyer took advantage of his time in DC and met with several other leaders. He spent time with Senator Cory Gardner and they discussed the Jordan Cove project. Moyer was surprisingly given hope on that project continuing to moving forward. They discussed the introduction of wolves issue as well as the importance of the Wolf Creek Reservoir project. Senator Gardner expressed concern about not being aware of the conditions that the State Water Engineer’s office is forcing on the project and agreed to reach out to that office and assist in clearing up any misunderstandings.
He met with Representative Scott Tipton and had a good conversation with him regarding the pitfalls of emission free electricity and the challenges and costs that, based on Colorado legislation, will limit their ability to power the grid. Tipton also offered to reach out to the State Water Engineer’s office and ask for further explanations and communication surrounding the conditions they are forcing on the reservoir project.
Commissioner Moyer also met with Jeff Small, Senior Advisor, External Affairs, Intergovernmental Affiars, Communications, in the Department of the Interior Office. Moyer was invited by Mr. Small to participate in a private briefing held by the CEQ (Committee on Environmental Quality) regarding the adoption of the proposed rules implementing NEPA process. This was the first major update since NEPA was passed in 1970, and the overall purpose of the proposed update is to streamline the NEPA process and make it more user friendly. For example, in the past, the average time it took to get a NEPA project done was 4.5 years and now, if approved, there will be a two-year limit. The proposed rules also include providing stronger input from local governments. Moyer lastly met with Karen Budd-Falen with the Dept of the Interior, who was instrumental in writing these new proposed rules and regulations. The same day, President Trump announced the roll-out of this proposal, which is now listed on the federal register and is going through the public input process.
Overall, although the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss WOTUS, Commissioner Moyer is happy that he was able to accomplish that and so much more, and feels that the trip was extremely productive.