Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

Water Marketing & The Colorado River Compact September 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jsvega @ 11:49 pm

On November 9, 1922 seven U.S. States (Upper River: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming; Lower River: California, Arizona, & Nevada) signed a compact commonly known as the “law of the river” designed to regulate each states usage of the water from the river, to ensure that the Lower Division has water to use for the future. This is important because the Colorado River is the only fresh water resource in the area.

This compact has been an area of dispute in the past with Arizona being unhappy with the allocation of water for the lower basin. There have been many different cases under the name Arizona v. California that have been litigated due to Arizona’s claims that California is using more water then it is entitled to. Another issue addressed in 1983 was the rights of Indian Tribes to a portion of the water in the Colorado River.

Water Marketing is a concept that would allow the water in the Colorado River to be transferred, leased, or sold from one state to another. This transfer can become problematic because it involves the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that manages the river. The Bureau released draft regulations in 1994 to regulate intrastate marketing of water. Objections (especially from Arizona) were brought up here about the federal governments infringement on State’s rights to manage the river. Other issues include management of excess water in water banks created and managed by Arizona, which is very protective of it’s share of the Colorado River as well as California’s growing population and need for more water. Another issue that affects the marketing of the water is having to consider the interstate and intrastate movement of the river.

 

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Federal Lands & Nuclear Nye County, Nevada September 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jsvega @ 5:57 pm

Nye County, Nevada is one of the largest counties in the country, however 93% of the land in the county is owned by the federal government. Nye County, Nevada is home to the Nevada Test Site as well as many lands regulated by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. The Federal Government would also like to make it the home of the first repository for high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

Do the citizens of Nevada and Nye County have a right to fight the placement of this repository near their homes? In 1989, the Nevada State Legislature passed two resolutions expressing “adamant opposition to the placement of a high-level nuclear waste repository in the State of Nevada”  (Klein, Cheever, Birdsong, 2009). In addition, the Nevada State Legislature also passes a bill making it illegal to store high-level radioactive waste in Nevada. These resolutions were rejected by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who found that the statute was preempted by federal law.

The project is stopped for now due to the decision in Nuclear Energy Institute v. Environmental Protection Agency 373 F.3d 1251 (D.C. Cir. 2004), which found that the EPA did not comply with radiation standards for certain waste to be deposited in Yucca Mountain.

Some questions to think about here are:

1. Is Nevada being treated equally to all of the other states when the Federal Government owns 82.9% of the lands in the State?

2. Should the federal government have to work with states and local communities when deciding how to use federal public lands, especially when it has to do with public health and safety?

References:

Klein, C. et. al.  Natural Resources Law: A Place-based book of problems and cases. 40-42 (2nd ed. 2009).