Montana files suit against Wyoming over water
Governor Freudenthal’s statement on Montana’s lawsuit over Tongue, Powder River
by Governor Freudenthal's Office news release
February 1, 2007
(Cheyenne, Wyoming) - Governor Dave Freudenthal expressed disappointment that Montana filed suit today against Wyoming over the apportionment of water in the Tongue and Powder River drainages.
”Since territorial times, Wyoming and Montana have shared the waters in the Tongue and Powder Rivers. Since 1950, the apportionment of these waters has been controlled by the Yellowstone River Compact which Wyoming has strictly honored,” Freudenthal said. “Prior to 2004, Wyoming and Montana agreed on how the compact operated. Since 2004, Montana has been agitating for a fight. I guess they finally threw the first punch. I am confident that Wyoming will prevail on this claim, but I am disappointed that Wyoming will be forced to expend millions of dollars to defend a claim that has no merit. These lawsuits drag out for years and consume vast resources and rarely result in any significant shift of water rights.”
Freudenthal also noted he is concerned that Montana seems intent on managing not only its affairs but also Wyoming's.
”Since 2003, Montana has passed water quality standards on the Tongue and Powder Rivers which they are seeking to enforce in Wyoming," he said. "Recently, Montana Senator Baucus proposed legislation in the U.S. Senate concerning the operation of Yellowtail Dam that would be contrary to the Yellowstone River Compact and existing rules, regulations and contracts of the Bureau of Reclamation. Now, Montana has filed this lawsuit trying to direct how we apportion water to our Wyoming irrigators."
”The last time I checked we were more than competent to administer our own laws and problems without any help or guidance from Montana.”
”I am perplexed why Montana officials have spent so much time and energy since 2003 poking Wyoming in the eye. We will vigorously defend our water rights and our sovereign interests to control our own destiny.”