Tester Secures More Than $1.3 Billion for Montana Indian Waters Rights Settlements through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Blackfeet, CSKT, Crow Tribes to receive full funding for settlements over two years
As a part of his ongoing push to ensure the federal government lives up to its trust and treaty responsibility to Montana's Tribal nations, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced he secured $1,369,585,000 through his bipartisan infrastructure law to help complete Indian Water Rights Settlements in Montana.
"Water rights are essential to economic development, health, and security - especially in a rural state like Montana," said Tester. "It's our constitutional duty to hold up our trust responsibilities to the Tribes, and I'm proud to have worked across the aisle to ensure that Montanans have the water resources they need to grow their economies and provide for their local community. I am proud to have worked with Republicans and Democrats to secure this necessary funding to strengthen all of Montana."
Tester's bipartisan infrastructure law secured $2.5 billion to implement the Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund, which will deliver long overdue water resources to Montana Tribes, certainty to all their non-Indian neighbors, and certainty for future economic development for entire communities dependent on common water resources. This week the Department of the Interior announced a $1.7 billion allocation to Indian Water Rights Settlements for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22), which will help complete all existing Montana Indian water rights settlements. The resources include $1,369,585,000 for the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act (Blackfeet Tribe), the Montana Water Rights Protection Act (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes), and the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act (Crow Tribe). Funding will be delivered through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Reclamation.
The breakdown of FY22 Indian Water Rights Settlement Completion Fund resources is below:
- $1,022,585,000: Montana Water Rights Protection Act (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes)
- $314,000,000: Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act (Blackfeet Tribe)
- $33,000,000: Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act (Crow Tribe)
Additional resources will be made available to fully fund Indian Water Rights Settlements in Montana through appropriations and the Reclamation Water Settlement Fund, which will fully fund the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act and Montana Water Rights Protection Act in Fiscal Year 2022.
Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate his bipartisan package with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House, and he was the only member of Montana's congressional delegation to vote for it. Tester's law is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families.
Tester secured significant wins for Montana in the legislation, including $2.82 billion for Montana's roads, highways and bridges; $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements; $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation; $65 billion to deploy broadband to areas across the country that lack internet access and additionally make online connectivity affordable; and $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk nationwide, among others. Tester also worked to ensure that all iron, steel, and construction materials used for these projects must be made in America.
A full list of Montana provisions in Tester's bipartisan infrastructure law can be found HERE.