© 2016 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
Attorney General Fox just won a water victory for the state of Montana in the Supreme Court of the United States!!! Hurrah!!!
The Billings Gazette reported today that “The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in Monday on a long-running water-rights fight between Wyoming and Montana, ruling that Wyoming shorted its neighbor to the north on Tongue River water for just two of the 15 years Montana had claimed.” You can read the article here.
We are certain that Attorney General Faux Fox, currently running for re-election, would like the public to see him as strong on property rights, a leader who is more than willing to go the extra mile to protect the valuable water resources of the state of Montana as well its sovereign obligations and duties to its citizens.
He did after all stand with other state Attorneys General in 2014 to speak out against the aggressive Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. In February 2015, Fox provided testimony before the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on the Interior. He began his testimony saying:
“As Montana’s Attorney General, one of my concerns is protecting our State’s sovereignty, which is just another way of saying protecting Montanans’ ability to exercise our right of self-government under or State’s constitution, and to conduct our affairs in the way we think best. That means I believe it is my duty to stand up and push back when I perceive an agency of the federal government overreaching the authority given to it by Congress and proposing actions that infringe on our sovereignty or exceed an agency’s authority. In connection with this committee’s work, I appear today to convey my concerns with three recent agency actions which I believe to be ill considered and which affect my State.”
He goes on:
“Montana is, for the most part, a headwaters state blessed with waters of exceptional quality, and the people of Montana have taken steps to fully protect that priceless resource for ourselves, our downstream neighbors, and all of our progeny. Those steps begin with our state constitution, which declares “All Surface, underground, flood, and atmospheric waters within the boundaries of the state” to be the property of the state for the use of its people.”
Pardon us for gagging at this truckload of Attorney General manure.
Note the date of his testimony, February 2015, right smack dab in the middle of his office’s aggressive lobbying of the legislature to pass SB 262 effectively giving away the waters of western Montana to the United States via the CSKT Water Compact.
So how does Fox’s Tongue River victory stack up to his “victory” of getting the CSKT water compact passed by a simple majority in the 2015 legislature, awarding upwards of 30 million acre feet of water to the United States, and ceding the state’s sovereign responsibility over water to a newly created “sovereign entity” that the CSKT says is above the laws and the constitution of the state of Montana?
The attached order from the United States Supreme Court says Wyoming is liable to Montana for 1,500 acre feet of water from 2004, and 56 acre feet of water in 2006. Wow! All of 1,556 acre feet compared to 30 million acre feet ceded to the United States in the CSKT water compact.
What does all of this say about our attorney general and the leadership of the state of Montana in general? How much taxpayer money did they spend for this pittance of water, this so called victory?
What is the true value of all that the state is trying to cede in the CSKT Compact? You can place a value on water, but what kind of value can one place on the sovereignty, constitutional protections and property rights of your citizens?
Apparently these things have little meaning or value to a state that has been more than willing to give it all away.
Oh and just in case it does have value, not to worry, the state has worked diligently to give itself immunity from monetary damages in the CSKT compact.
Clearly Montana has no common sense when it comes to choosing the right battles to fight.
The decision to defend Montana against WOTUS is logically, practically, legally, and morally inconsistent and at odds with the decision to give away Montana’s water to the federal government in the CSKT Compact. In other words, the Attorney General’s statements and actions on the WOTUS rule are meaningless, and just window-dressing. If the other states win this battle against WOTUS, Montana will not be spared because Tim Fox’s efforts on the compact effectively gave western Montana’s water to the United States.
Perhaps western Montana should consider electing its own attorney general. The one we have clearly is not working for us “lesser citizens” who, the Attorney General Fox, through his solicitor general says, should have known better than to move to this area of Montana.
I believe our Founders would see this absurd position of the state as taxation without representation, or perhaps it is something even worse.
Perhaps the Tongue River water is liquid gold and the water in western Montana is just water? Perhaps Fox’s efforts serve simply to pander to all of the organizations whose hackles were raised at the potential of WOTUS impacting eastern Montana.
Is there some kind of double standard when it comes to those of us living west of the divide? Perhaps because such a large percentage of western Montana land mass is already lost to “federal ownership” making many of the more rural areas economically depressed, the state is okay with ceding what little remains.
Whatever their reasons, the inconsistency of the state with respect to protecting its water resources and sovereign prerogatives for some areas of Montana and not others should be called into question.