February 22, 2005

Crapo Pushes to Protect State Water Rights

State Water Sovereignty Protection Act ensures state authority

Washington, DC â?? Using his expertise in water rights law, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has introduced legislation that will protect state water rights and ensure that federal agencies will pay their share of filing fees in water rights cases. The State Water Sovereignty Protection Act was introduced late Thursday in the U.S. Senate and is expected to be referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water, which Crapo chairs. Crapo authored and introduced the measure due to concerns that Congress and federal agencies may be eroding established water rights practices with the states. â??This legislation puts the federal government under the same rules as states and other private users,â?? Crapo explained. â??For nearly 150 years, Congress has recognized and deferred to the states the authority to allocate and administer water within their borders. The Supreme Court has confirmed that this is an appropriate role for the states. There are so many federal measures which seek to encroach on state water sovereignty, and this legislation makes it clear that the federal government should be subject to the substantive and procedural laws of that state. Crapo, who introduced similar legislation in previous Congresses, said his bill subjects federal officials to state procedures and state water law whenever federal officials seek to appropriate or acquire water rights. "Federal agencies and some in the Congress are setting the stage for ignoring long established statutory provisions concerning state water rights and state water contracts. The Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Federal Land Policy Management Act, and wilderness designations have all been vehicles used to erode State sovereignty over water," Crapo said. # # #