Thursday, May 15, 2008

Montana Waters in Jeopardy

Montanans take our water very seriously. We’ve spent generations managing and protecting this most precious resource, and nearly everything in our state – from farming and ranching to tourism and recreation, depends on our management of our water. That’s why I’ve been shocked and discouraged by Governor Brian Schweitzer’s recent support of a bill that gives bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. all of the power to manage Montana’s water.

In case you haven’t followed this underreported story, some members of Congress, and even some folks in Helena, want to take away our ability to manage our own water in Montana and across the country. Currently the United States Congress is considering the Clean Water Restoration Act. This bill will to drastically expand the power of the federal government and threatens Montana families and communities with an increased burden they should not be expected to bear.

Unfortunately, Governor Brian Schweitzer is among those who support this federal power-grab, despite all the problems it creates in Montana. He’s taken the side of extreme environmental groups who contend that the federal government should apply the standards of the Clean Water Act to all waters in Montana, from our major rivers on down to stock ponds and irrigation ditches.

Don’t get me wrong: The Clean Water Act has been a largely successful policy that has helped to restore and protect navigable waterways, and as a result, Montana and the rest of the country has benefited. But now, we face a crossroads, and the federal government is moving to take over regulation of all waters, and their inability to grasp the reality of water issues in our state could be devastating to Montanans.

Empowering a Washington, D.C. bureaucrat to regulate our water use in every home, field and business across the state is flat out dangerous. No two areas of our great nation are alike, and a one-size fits all approach will, no doubt, yield disastrous and unintended consequences. In addition, the Clean Water Restoration Act would expand the reach of federal agencies to a virtually limitless level, and it is a direct assault on the rights of states and municipalities to manage our own water resources. In effect, this bill grants the federal government the authority to step in and regulate all activities, public or private, that affect water. Decisions made locally would now potentially be subject to federal review. Common-sense practices that have been in place for decades around Montana might now require a permit from the federal government.

The Clean Water Restoration Act will also carry a heavy price for state and local governments. Montana may be required to adopt water quality standards to comply with this act, and would need to develop a system to monitor and report on the quality of those waters.

Governor Brian Schweitzer and the liberals in Congress support this measure as a way to protect our water – something the stewards of our lands have done for decades. But what the Governor won’t mention is that this legislation puts additional risks and costs on our agricultural producers and landowners. Property owners are more likely to be sued, and basic changes could be held up in court simply because all Montana waters are now subject to federal review.

This policy would be a disaster for Montana. That’s why I opposed this bill before congress. Montanans need to band together to prevent this terrible policy from taking root. Contact Governor Brian Schweitzer and urge him not to sell us up the river. We depend on our water, and we don’t need federal bureaucrats to protect it for us.


Anonymous said...

Nice try Big Oil Roy Brown. Maybe you should take the time to read the actual testimony the Governor delivered in person on this issue. For your enlightenment, here are some direct quotes from that testimony:

“I would just caution that in writing this legislation, make sure that you give adequate authority to local folks on the ground to interpret these rules; for example, the conservation districts...that are locally elected, that have the charge of protection the water in each of these conservation districts in nearly every agricultural county in America.”

“We make a living in Montana running cows on the range, and sometimes those cows drink water out of a pond or river. We don’t want the long arm of the federal government telling us we can’t do that.”

“We don’t want to put the federal government in the position of managing our waterways all the way to the Rocky Mountains…We want you to help us protect the water supply for the rest of the County, but we don’t want to put our farmers out of business, our loggers out of business, our cattlemen out of business.”

Farmers and ranchers “wouldn’t like to be in a position where the federal government says, ‘oh boy, you know that stock pond that you have got there on your ranch where you built it or your granddaddy built that thing 75 years ago? Well, you no longer water your cattle out of that because now we in Washington DC think we own that water.’ This is something that we don’t want to see happen.”

Anonymous said...

Or you could look at this qoute from the good guv:

“Passage of the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act is the best way to ensure that all of the water resources in Montana remain fully protected.”

Montana Headlines said...

"Fully protected" from what, or whom? From federal control? Doesn't sound like it.

The governor at first glance seems to be using the old tactic of saying one thing and doing another, hoping that he can respond to criticisms of his support of the bill by using his contradictory testimony.

If he believed all of the rhetoric he is using in the quotations that you provide, he would have opposed the bill rather than supported it.