Thune calls Corps of Engineers’ proposal ‘insult’ to South DakotaSens. John Thune and Sen. Tim Johnson have asked for Capitol Hill hearings on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to charge for the use of some water from the Missouri River.
By: Denise Ross, The Daily Republic
Sens. John Thune and Sen. Tim Johnson have asked for Capitol Hill hearings on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to charge for the use of some water from the Missouri River.
The two South Dakota senators, the Democratic Johnson and Republican Thune, joined with three other senators to call for the hearings.
Thune called the proposal “a power grab” and “an insult” to South Dakota landowners inundated by flood waters just a year ago due to what he called “mismanagement of the Missouri River.”
“It’s just amazing to me that the Corps of Engineers has gone down this path,” Thune told reporters in a teleconference Wednesday.
In a press release, Johnson said the corps’ actions may contradict state water law, historical and legal precedent, and would have negative impacts on individuals, tribes, businesses and water systems in Montana and the Dakotas.
Thune says the state is owed water from the river after losing hundreds of thousands of prime farmland when the federal government built dams after the Flood Control Act of 1944.
“Our state was promised we would have access to water in the river for various purposes in exchange for the land lost,” Thune said. “I will continue to work to ensure the rights and needs of South Dakota communities are considered in the management of the Missouri River.”
“We believe that the corps’ proposal is contrary to unique legal and historical precedents as it relates to the circumstances surrounding the main stem dam system on the Missouri River that was established pursuant to the 1944 Flood Control Act,” the senators wrote in a letter to leaders of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Thune has asked that South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley be invited to testify about the legal history of states’ water rights when it comes to the Missouri River.
In addition to Thune and Johnson, Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., John Tester, D-Mont., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., signed the letter.