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Calvert Questions Court Ruling at New Mexico Hearing

CONTACT: Rebecca Rudman

      September 9, 2003
PHONE: 202-225-1986


WASHINGTON, DC - On Saturday, September 6, 2003, Congressman Ken Calvert
(R-CA), a member of the U.S. House Resources Committee, attended a hearing
regarding the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to divert water from
agriculture for the endangered silvery minnow fish.

At the hearing Rep. Calvert stated:

"This ruling essentially ignores our nation's fundamental notion of
private property freedoms by exerting federal control over locally
controlled water resources.  It's little wonder that this precedent makes
many uneasy in my region of southern California who are left wondering what
else is going to threaten the Colorado River, an already uncertain water
supply.  We have witnessed the Endangered Species impacts on Klamath
farmers, then on Albuquerque and Santa Fe urban water users, and my region
currently has endangered kangaroo rats and Delhi Sands Flower-loving flies,
so many wonder who the next target will be."

The hearing was in response to a June 2003 ruling by the 10th Circuit
Court of Appeals that the Bureau of Reclamation has discretion to restrict
water supplies to urban and agricultural water users for the silvery minnow.
The ruling could set a precedent that would allow imported Colorado River
water, already drawn on by seven states for urban and agricultural uses, to
be available for solving unrelated and unintended endangered species needs.
The hearing addressed the ramifications of the ruling and the effects they
have had on the local economy, western water law and the role of federal
control over local water resources.  The hearing included testimony from
state and local officials, farm representatives, and a lawyer that
represented the plaintiffs in the silvery minnow case.

"The Court's opinion also speaks volumes about the state of the Endangered
Species Act," stated Rep. Calvert at the hearing.  "Nearly everyone agrees
with the need for endangered species protections, but it seems that more
money is being spent on litigation and waging battles in the courts than on
protecting species.  No one ever intended this law to become the full
employment act for lawyers and environmental extremists, but I'm concerned
that it's going in that direction. It also says that long years of
collaboration can be hijacked by fringe groups not happy with the initial
outcome.  It's time for a fresh look at the Endangered Species Act, if it
can be carried out more effectively in a cooperative and scientific manner."




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