30 Apr 2008

Texas versus Oklahoma

In this edition of state versus state, Texas ("If I can get it, it's mine.") is trying to buy Oklahoma water from some folks, which upsets other folks [excerpts]:
A loose coalition of southern Oklahoma organizations sought Wednesday to bolster their case against the sale of state water to Texas interests.

The Tarrant Regional Water District wants to obtain 150 billion gallons of water a year from Oklahoma streams.

Opponents say the district wants the water to further economic development in north Texas at the expense of Oklahoma towns and cities.

The Legislature prohibited water sales out of state after learning that former Gov. Frank Keating's administration planned to sell water to Texas and split the profits with the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations.

The Tarrant Regional Water District, based in Fort Worth, contends in its lawsuit that the ban on water sales violates federal interstate commerce laws.

Rep. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, said officials in the Dallas-Fort Worth area need to do more to conserve water instead of trying to obtain water from Oklahoma.

He also said Congress should enact a law prohibiting one state from suing another for water "when they do not have a good conservation plan in place."

The sale of any Oklahoma water to other states should be for human consumption only, Ellis said. He said if the state sells its water for industrial development in other states, Oklahoma will never grow itself.
Although I am not sure if water will make Oklahoma grow, I do know that a lack of water will sure stop it. I'm very interested to see if the constitutional argument stands up in court.

Bottom Line: Interstate water rights are one area where the federal government should be involved, but it's a different question of whether one state can block its citizens from selling their water to people in a neighboring state. Stay tuned.

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