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The water-rights decision downplayed the potential impact of climate change, which some have said could cause reductions in the available water of as much as 30 percent. It also asserted that Kane County rights will take a place behind the Central Utah Project if water shortages ever become severe.
Without that caveat, the publicly financed, $3 billion CUP, serving 600,000 residents in the populated Wasatch Front, might have to defer to Blue Castle’s rights during a deep drought.
Online: Blue Castle Project infoRead more about the Blue Castle Project at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website.
Pro » Mike McCandless, economic development director for Emery County, applauded Friday’s water-rights decision as a critical step forward to improving life in nearby Green River City and the rest of his 1,100-population county.
“We know it’s just one more step in the process,” he said, “but we in the county are very excited about it.”
The county estimates the plant will mean as many as 2,000 well-paying jobs. It also would roughly double the county’s tax base, he said.
Con » Green River farmer Tim Vetere criticized the decision to let the power plant take the river water.
“This is going to make it harder for farmers to get the water they need out of the river,” said Vetere, whose farm raises melons, sweet corn, field corn, hay and more. “Also, I’m worried that if a nuclear power plant goes in, people won’t want to buy my melons.”
“Pretending there is enough water in the Green River for the power plant is a mistake,” says Bob Quist, the owner of Moki Mac River Expeditions, a company that leads rafting trips on the Green. “It’s bad for my business and bad for everyone that depends on this river.”
Neither the governor nor Legislature has any official role in approving or blocking the project — that’s now up to the NRC — but both have supported the idea of nuclear energy. Gov. Gary Herbert did not endorse the decision Friday. But his spokeswoman said "his support for specific [nuclear] projects will hinge on the safety and health of Utahns foremost."
The state’s decision to OK the Blue Castle project troubled Matt Pacenza, director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah.
"It’s disappointing and unfortunate," Pacenza said. "The good news is the project still has many obstacles ahead of it."
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