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Lummis Defends States’ Water Rights

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.)  Wyoming’s U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis voted with a bi-partisan majority of 238-174 to pass the Water Rights Protection Act yesterday.  The bill bars federal agencies from demanding that citizens and businesses relinquish their water rights to the U.S. government and have them considered for a public lands permit or lease.  Lummis told the Congress that such a federal government practice violates the constitutional guarantee of just compensation and goes against more than a century of federal deference to states’ water rights.  She told the Congress that state law is crucial in the west for its residents.  Said Lummis: “Take how a ski area permit is supposed to work.  The Forest Service issues a permit for the use of the land –the land — but the water is administered in accordance with state water law.  The water does not belong to the federal government.”  Lummis explained that the US Forest Service is demanding water rights as a condition of ski area permits and ranchers’ grazing permits.  Lummis told the House, if the federal government wants water rights, it has to pay for them or get in line just like other citizens and businesses.

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