Tester, Baucus warn President against irresponsible Missouri River "water grab"
Senators join bipartisan effort to press President, FEMA and Corps of Engineers for responsible solutions on Missouri River flow management
(Washington, D.C.) – Montana U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are leading a bipartisan effort to stand firm against an illegal water grab from the Missouri River system to aid navigation on the Mississippi River. In a letter to President Obama, FEMA Administrator William Fugate and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, Tester and Baucus argue efforts to release water from Missouri River reservoirs will only amplify drought-related losses already experienced by Montana communities, tribes and industries that rely on that water.
“Montana producers and families faced record drought this summer and are relying on Montana water to help them recover,” Tester said. “This short-sighted, irresponsible proposal will hurt our ability to grow our economy and create jobs, and I will do everything I can to make sure Montana communities and businesses get the water they need.”
“Sending Montana water downstream to float barges will hurt our small businesses and create more problems than solutions. We all share the pain during drought years, but upstream states like Montana stand to get the short end of the stick when downstream states don’t play by the rules,” said Baucus.
Downstream states are asking the President to declare an unprecedented emergency declaration to release water from the Missouri River’s system of dams and reservoirs specifically to aid navigation of barges on the Mississippi River. In today’s letter, Tester and Baucus along with 12 other senators explained that while they understand how important transportation is for commerce downstream, the emergency declaration is a misguided option.
The effort is another twist in a decades-old dispute between downstream barge interests and upstream communities in Montana and the Dakotas whose economies depend on the Missouri River for irrigation and recreation.