Harmful water grab bill passes House, fight continues


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Crystal River, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

The House of Representatives voted today to approve a bill that could dry up countless stretches of rivers and harm river restoration efforts nationwide. H.R. 3189 – the so-called “Water Rights Protection Act” – passed by a 238-174 vote.

This bill is terrible news for rivers nationwide. It puts the interests of the oil and gas industry, corporate agriculture, and other private interests over the health of our rivers, fish and wildlife, and the millions of Americans who fish, boat, and enjoy river recreation. It is ultimately a broad swipe at federal natural resource agencies’ authority to protect public lands and recreation.

The bill, pushed by the National Ski Areas Association and Aspen’s SkiCo, as well as the Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Colorado Petroleum Association, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, would strip away critical safeguards for rivers, fish and wildlife.

The bill was originally introduced to address a specific conflict between Colorado’s ski industry and the U.S. Forest Service. Even though the Forest Service has already acted to address the ski industry’s issue, the bill became a vehicle for the oil and gas industry, corporate agriculture, and other industries, putting their interests ahead of the public’s interest in healthy rivers and recreation.

This bill was so badly written, that in a last ditch effort to try to bring some sanity to the legislative process, House Democrats offered an amendment that would, at the very least, allow federal agencies to protect rivers enough to guarantee recreation jobs, fire suppression, and communities threatened by drought. But apparently those restrictions did not work for the ski industry, the CAFO operators, and the hydrofrackers. So their supporters in the House voted no.

In a rare and almost unprecedented move, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) took a bold step to protect rivers in Colorado and across the nation by removing his support for a bill of which he was an original sponsor. Rep. Polis introduced an amendment that would rectify the flaws in the bill by narrowing it to address the ski areas’ original concerns, but that was ultimately rejected by the House. Congressman Polis went down to the floor of the House to oppose the bill and offer a passionate defense for rivers and the outdoor recreation economy.

River advocates spoke up, and Congressman Polis listened. We should all applaud Congressman Polis for having the courage to stand up and do what is right. Jared Polis is a true champion for healthy rivers, and for everybody who fishes, boats, and enjoys the outdoors and he called this bill out for what it truly is: a job killing water grab. His leadership sets a great example, and we hope his colleagues follow this example in the future.Additionally Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR), Rep Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) all engaged the fight on behalf of the America’s rivers on the floor of the House to fight a bill which Rep. DeFazio described as “just another attempt to undermine critical environmental protections and target federal agencies that manage our public lands for future generations.” They deserve our thanks.

Most importantly I thank you, our friends who care deeply about our nations rivers. Although this bill passed the House, your voice was heard. Passing legislation like this comes with a price for its supporters, and it took the full weight of some of the nation’s most powerful interests to get it through the House. River advocates and our allies in Congress landed the blows needed slow this legislation down.

Even though the President declared his strong opposition to the bill, the ski industry and their polluter allies don’t appear to be giving up. Well, neither will we.

The bill is now in the Senate’s hands, and we have to keep the pressure on. American Rivers and our partners across the country will continue to stand against this bill and we urge the Senate to oppose this sweeping attack on our rivers. But we are only as strong as our supporters. River advocates must also stand firm and keep the pressure on the National Ski Areas Association to break with big polluters like the hydrofrackers and the CAFOs, and instead work on a solution that addresses their concerns.

Keep Fighting!

47 Responses to “Harmful water grab bill passes House, fight continues”

Deb Schick

Water should be a basic human/wildlife right – not something that should be controlled by passing legislation to benefit a few.

    Elaine Cummings

    You are so right. There are a few under-cover agendas going here, though. The worst of which is that ‘this’ will play into BLM’s hand, regarding why they insist they “need to remove more wild horses.” They have been lying in their teeth for a long while, because all they want is the permission for mass horse slaughter.

Denise Thomas

This bill was pushed by the National Ski Areas Association, Aspen’s SkiCo, The Farm Bureau, the US Chamber of Commerce, The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Colorado Petroleum Association, and the Colorado Gas and Oil Association. This bill was originally introduced to address a SPECIFIC conflict between Colorado’s Ski Industry and the US Forest Service. It now has become a vehicle for the Oil and Gas industry, corporate agriculture, and other industries, putting their interests above the public interest for healthy rivers and recreation. This bill would strip away critical safeguards for rivers, fish, and wildlife. There has to be some sanity in the way we choose to care for this planet. This is all we have for humankind going forward. We can’t continue to destroy everything. There can be very little chance to go back and correct our wasteful mistakes, in the name of profits. Please weigh carefully and do the right thing, for our future and our children and grandchildrens’ future.
Thank you.

Lorraine Doherty

I’m wondering why the Farm Bureau and some of the other organizations wanted this bill passed. To me it seems very harmful to raising crops as well as for wildlife and recreation in wild areas.

    Sandra Hagen

    From my observation in Md., the Farm Bureau rarely seems to be on the side of the land. On the side of profits, yes; land, no.

    Ellen McCormick

    Remember that the oil and gas industry needs water for their fracking business that is destroying this country. Get to your legislators one and all and get bills to stop this kind of legislation across the country. It’s terrible what’s happening.

Jann

This is a horrible bill. Why is it that our government allows big oil and gas companies to continue to destroy our environment, water, air, land, wildlife and their habitats. But now to add the ski industries into the mix. Our voices must be heard and we must stand up against this destructible bill. We need to keep safeguards for our air, water, land and wildlife. We must strengthen the few safeguards left. We must use our voices and votes to let those who are trying to stop away the safeguards and laws that we want stronger permenent safeguards for our waters and Eco systems. We must fight big oil and gas companies who want to destroy our beautiful land, water and Eco systems. We vote those INTO government to do what’s right for our environment and we can vote those same officials OUT.No more big oil and gas and ski associations directing and telling our officials what will be done by their standards not by what us, the voters, want and desire. SPEAK UP and send your message to the officials that the water and land belongs to us all, not just to big oil, gas and ski industries. Your voice will make the difference. Use it. We cannot fix the damage we have already done. We must keep the future safe for everyone, not just these oil, gas, ski cattlemen, etc associations. They want to destroy and we need to stop them. Become a strong voice against this destruction.

    Elaine Cummings

    Much of our country is in critical drought condition, as we speak. The Colorado River is already maxed out with several states all laying claim to water. If there are a couple more winters of no heavy snow pack and thus, no major runoff, look out. California farming is in trouble already, and they are a large part of the vegetables-and-fruits supply for supermarkets all over the country. Fracking in such drought conditions should be outlawed because of the huge amounts of good water needed for this process. As well, BLM would like nothing better than to invent yet another reason to eliminate our wild horses into extinction. BTW: Sen. Harry Reid (NV), Senate Majority Leader, is behind much of THAT. He was the inspiration for the secretly-drafted BURNS Amendment to the 1971 LAW of protection … and allowed BLM to release captive wild horses to known killer-buyer auctions. Check out the current law suit in Nevada, where–if BLM folds–they will be ‘required’ to release captive wild horses without condition (ie., to slaughter). Just what they want!

    Christi Cox

    The reason the government lets them do whatever they want is because these companies are the ones filling up all their CPAC accounts.

Loretta Paraguassu

It’s a travesty to desecrate our rivers so that special interests can make a short-term profit. I am strongly opposed to this bill.

Patrick Carraher

Please forward Denise Thomas’s observations:

“This bill was pushed by the National Ski Areas Association, Aspen’s SkiCo, The Farm Bureau, the US Chamber of Commerce, The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Colorado Petroleum Association, and the Colorado Gas and Oil Association. This bill was originally introduced to address a SPECIFIC conflict between Colorado’s Ski Industry and the US Forest Service. It now has become a vehicle for the Oil and Gas industry, corporate agriculture, and other industries, putting their interests above the public interest for healthy rivers and recreation. This bill would strip away critical safeguards for rivers, fish, and wildlife. There has to be some sanity in the way we choose to care for this planet. This is all we have for humankind going forward. We can’t continue to destroy everything. There can be very little chance to go back and correct our wasteful mistakes, in the name of profits. Please weigh carefully and do the right thing, for our future and our children and grandchildrens’ future.
Thank you.”

to the stakeholders and politicians responsible for deciding on this issue.

Thank you

Janet S Sherman

Water is a public good, and belongs to the people and wildlife that directly live on the river, creeks and tributaries. Congress has a responsibility to protect that public good from being removed, sold, or contaminated. Federal and State agencies have a responsibility to serve the common good, ensuring citizens that water won’t be removed, sold or polluted. This bill serves big business and big business serves itself, not the public.

Perhaps it is time to boycott the Aspen SkiCo and all Ski lodges in affiliation with the National Ski Areas Association. It is clear that they are behaving in ways that could harm their clients and their neighbors.

It is certainly time to vote against politicians that are willing to act against the common good. This is NOT a republican or democrat issue. It is a basic right’s issue that affects the public for generations of time.

DONALD E YEAGER

PEOPLE FIRST, CORPS SECOND. OUR LEGISLATORS HAVE IT BACKWARDS.

Jennifer Wittlinger

Will Big Oil and Gas not be truly satifisfied until they have used their money and legislative influence to completely rape and pillage our environment????? PLEASE keep what little pristine habitat we have left pristine!

sharyn wisdom

the bible states that a bastards children will be cursed for 7 generations…i think that is a way to say to think ahead 7 generations. this is a bastard bill and will impact more than 7 generations to come…let’s have some foreward thinking here..to live in the moment is one thing but not when our children’s and their children’s health and well being are concerned

KN

Strongly oppose this bill .01% of the population now has 98% of our nations wealth aquired through manipulations of rules, laws, regulations, codes, monopolies, hyperinflation, gouging, licenses, taxes, tolls and our very constitution for their personal portfolios and are treating us and our country like we were here for their personal amusement. The joke stops now!!!

Wayne Taber

What about publishing the names of those representatives having voted for this bill?

FRED KAHN

Rivers should be let alone. My parents had a house on the shore of the Wakiva River in Florida seeing what over contruction and building has done not only polution but wild life (Black Bears). IT’S A SHAME

ray bondorew

Perhaps it would be best for our educated? congressmen to listen to the words of those we shamelessly subdued long ago.
” A frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.”
American Indian proverb

Ray Bondorew
http://www.raysfly.wordpress.com

robert Hart

unbelievable. What is wrong with these people? Protect the water.

Richard Bauer

I would like to know more, about the specifics of what this bill says and examples of the negative consequences that it might legally permit. This will help me explain it to my Trout Unlimited group and to argue to my Senators for its defeat in that body.

Bill DeForest

let’s not forget the golf courses sucking up water and spraying the golf courses with cancer causing pesticides turning them into chemical dumps which drift into the otherwise clean water we drink.

Marion Fields

What do these industries think will happen to their customers who pay for their services or products once they have destroyed the land air and water. What happens then, when the profits dry up much like the rivers that they are stealing from us as we speak. Pollution and destruction of our environment will benefit no one. Why the constant fight to keep these hateful corporations from destroying what little is left of this country. I will never understand that they don’t believe that they and theirs will suffer the same fate as the rest of us. You can’t eat, drink or breath MONEY!

Jan Elliott

I am appalled that anyone could put corporate profit ahead of maintaining our clean waterways, which are not only essential for fish and other wildlife, but provide recreation and drinking water for many people. No private interest should be able to destroy what belongs to the public. I ski, but I will never use any of their facilities if this goes through.

Rose Marie Wilson

I would like to see the list of Representatives and how they voted. We need to work on kicking out of office those traitors who voted for this despicable bill. They ARE traitors, for they would sell out their country to the highest bidder.

Gudrun Matthaus

Thank you for doing this work, too many of us are unaware of the magnitude of destruction our legislature wreaks.

Tamera Postles

When are our legislators going to look beyond their noses [or should I say 'pockets'] and consider ALL ramifications of bills they pass? Every time a river is dammed, someone/something downriver suffers. Keep this nonsense up and eventually [sooner rather than later, at the current rate] a large majority of the country will be uninhabitable!

William C. Thwing

The Ski Industry used to be environmentally friendly. Now they have been co-opted by BIG OIL and have become the enemy of the people. They are willing to sell their corporate soul to the devil for a couple of bucks. SHAME…SHAME…SHAME! God’s wrath wlll seek out and destroy both….unfortunately for “We The People”

Frederick Parker

I am dead set against this truly harmful bill. We cannot allow such a bill with it attack on our environment.

John Milburn

In this day and age it is unbelievable that issue’s like this still exist in our country. With all the knowledge that we have learn through out history how we can continue to struggle with such topics is unbelievable. We live in the greatest country in the world with incredible resources and intelligence. Can the powers that we elect not be trusted to make the right decisions for the ones that put their faith in them in the first place? If not, then we need to identify these people who have been swayed by big business at the cost of all others. We need to make public who these individuals are, hold them accountable for their actions or intent, then organize to take away their power by voting them out. With all the modern efforts of conservation and awareness, it makes me sick to see that we still have to deal with the insanity from the illogic and greed of a few individuals.

Charles McCaughtry

This bill is unthinkable, it serves only short term greed. What will these greedy fools ( I have other words) do when they have destroyed the natural system.
The money is in the hands of greed and by their actions legislators follow the money. Good stewardship of natural resources in America is seriously in question.

Marci Utes

The Financial, Emotional, and Environmental RAPING of society isn’t enough for the Big Oil and Gas Elite. They can’t stand “Pat” on the deal until their hands are full of all the cards (Land & Water Rights included), and there is NOTHING left for us to do but Go “Hunger Games” on their GREEDY ASSES !!!!!

Mark B

The bill, pushed by the National Ski Areas Association and Aspen’s SkiCo, as well as the Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Colorado Petroleum Association, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Organizations we love to loathe…..

Robert Buselmeier

Makes one wonder whether we still have a democracy, when special interests greedy for more money and power have no consideration for the desecration of irreplaceable natural resources so critical to the health and well-being of the general public! I thank God that there still are members of Congress that have the moral courage to stand up against such powerful political self interests!

Cindy Daugherty

WE need our rivers FREE, and mostly UNBOTHERED. Our food and clothing sources will dry up because animals will die and plants will die…. The water belongs to EVERY LIVING CREATURE and PLANT !!!!!!

Marjorie Fischl

I think this may have started out with the ski industry wanting rights but it seems to me they got a big push from giant corps. For the most part skiers are into nature and would not want to be a part of destroying nature. The people I know that ski are into health, organics and nature. They would be against this law if informed. Not all people have the time to follow.

If there are sufficient comments about a ski resort online letting people know which resorts are behind this law people may just vote with their feet. They also may vote for different legislators. Just an idea.

Debbie

What happened to representation by the people and for the people. It has become by the rich for the rich or whoever can pay the most. This bill passing is disgusting. By the time my grandchildren are grown there will be no more beautiful wildlife areas let alone wilflife to live in the areas.

Kris Hughes

Whenever a representative from Colorado introduces a bill regarding water or fossil energy (and this is both)the only question one can ask is “Who paid for this?”

Cliff Dweller

Several commenters here have recommended naming the Congress Critters who voted for the ‘water grab bill’. Great idea. Also name the contributors to their campaigns.

Boycott the bunch of them … and their little dogs too. Write / contact the organizations who lurk in the background and politely tell them why they are wrong.

According to the above article, there were 176 people who voted Against this bill. It may be helpful to send them a note of thanks so that they do not feel so all alone.

Stay the Course ..