Lummis, McClintock, Tipton Take Secretary Jewell to Task On Blueways Order

Highlights threats to state authority and private water rights; requests explanation for lack of transparency and public process.

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (WY) joined forces with House Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (CA), Representative Scott Tipton (CO), and other Republican Members of the Water and Power Subcommittee in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell regarding the National Blueways Order, which claims the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to designate entire river watersheds as “National Blueways.” 

The letter comes on the heels of a Water and Power Subcommittee hearing where Shoshone Conservation District Supervisor Russell Boardman testified against a Blueways designation of the Yellowstone River watershed.  His testimony cited a complete lack of Interior Department outreach to his district and others in Wyoming despite Interior’s targeting of the Yellowstone River for the designation, which could undermine local water management and private water rights.  The letter requests an explanation from Secretary Jewell for this lack of public process and expresses concern about the involvement of controversial Interior official Rebecca Wodder in promoting Blueways designations.  In January 2012, Ms. Wodder was forced to withdraw from her nomination as Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks due in part to her promotion of land and water management policies that would be economically destructive to rural communities.

U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo):

“As disturbing as it is that millions of acres in Wyoming could be swept up in a new federal designation with the swipe of a pen and over local objections, that’s exactly what the Blueways Order allows and its unacceptable,” said Lummis. “Wyoming’s precious water resources are already managed effectively at the local level, where our conservation districts responsibly balance multiple uses.  Any attempt by the federal government to manage our state’s non-navigable waters isn’t just unnecessary; it disrupts local efforts and usurps state authority over private water rights.  After Interior’s targeting of the Yellowstone River for federal designation without any consultation with local governments and water rights holders in Wyoming, Secretary Jewell owes us some answers and I am pleased that my colleagues on the Water and Power Subcommittee agree.”

House Resources Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock:

“The edict establishing a “National Blueways” system was imposed by a former American Rivers executive turned bureaucrat who is trying to place a 44 million acre watershed off limits to productive use by redefining the legal definition of 'coordination' in a manner that is truly Orwellian," remarked House Resources Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock. “As one witness asked, ‘How can a designation that requires no public notice, no comment opportunity and was created without coordination or consultation with affected landowners, local governments or states, result in increased coordination?’”

U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO):

“The implications of the National Blueways Order on the communities and economies that rely on long-held individual water rights for their livelihood are as far reaching as the waterways it seeks to control. This Order has the potential to further the Administration’s steady erosion of state water law, by inserting clunky federal regulatory authority over Western waterways, disregarding state water law, and casting aside a century of local conservation efforts to responsibly protect and manage our precious water supply. What former Interior Secretary Salazar and his successor, Secretary Jewell, do not seem to understand, is that Colorado water, Western water, is not for the taking. We will not roll over and let a handful of Washington bureaucrats jeopardize the health of our waterways, the private property rights of citizens and the economic certainty of Western communities. Our constituents deserve a detailed explanation of the public outreach and local collaboration process required for a designation under this order.”

*Sent jointly with the office of Rep. Cynthia Lummis.