Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Congressman calls on New Mexico to help with water dispute

New Mexico’s only Republican member of Congress has joined the fight between ranchers and the federal government over access to water on national forest lands, saying the state can do more to protect the private property and water rights of its citizens. The U.S. Forest Service has fenced streams, springs and other watering holes to protect the habitat of an endangered mouse. The agency has repeatedly defended its actions, saying it has responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act to ensure the survival of the rodent. The congressman, whose district covers most of the southern half of the state, said the federal government is trampling on property and water rights in New Mexico as it has in other Western states. Fifty state lawmakers have written to New Mexico’s top water manager, voicing concerns that the federal government has overstepped its authority. State Engineer Tom Blaine said in April that he was concerned about the federal mismanagement of public lands and that his office was investigating complaints from locals about recent federal actions. Gov. Susana Martinez’s office has yet to weigh in...more

In the press conference this morning Pearce was critical of the State Engineer's lack of action to protect NM water rights. Here we have a situation where NM citizens have a water right recognized by the State Engineer, but a structure imposed by a federal agency is preventing those New Mexicans from exercising that right. And the State Engineer does nothing? Pearce does see an inconsistency here:

Arguing that water is a state issue, Pearce said New Mexico needs to stand up to the federal government, like it has with lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over pollution from a Colorado mine spill and the fight over plans by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release more Mexican gray wolves into the wild. 

Pearce did say he felt if Governor Martinez was properly briefed on the issue he was confident she would support the ranchers and state water law. Pearce may be correct on the Governor, but I'm not so sure. She steadfastly refused to get involved on the Wilderness/National Monument issue here in Dona Ana County.  She wouldn't even meet with the groups who were in opposition. The Governor jumped right in on the U.S.D.A licensing a horse slaughter plant, but has been silent on land and water issues that affect so many New Mexicans.  What is her position  on the pending bills to take more lands out of multiple-use in New Mexico? Her silence plays to the benefit of the enviro lobbyists, Senators Udall and Heinrich, and the Obama administration.  And more importantly, she's not helping the rural citizens of our state.

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