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Public Statements

Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRIJALVA. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1461, legislation that would authorize the Mescalero Apache Tribe of New Mexico to lease its adjudicated and quantified water rights for up to 99 years, pursuant to State law.

There is a tremendous need for water in south central New Mexico among the Mescalero Apache Tribe's non-Indian neighbors. The tribe has approximately 2,300 acre-feet of water to meet this need, which it is ready to lease to the surrounding communities. Revenue generated by such leasing would be used to fund basic tribal government services such as a senior care center, infrastructure development, and academic scholarships.

Because the tribe's water rights were quantified by adjudication, legislation is necessary to authorize the tribe to lease its water. H.R. 1416 provides this simple authorization that would not only make the tribe's valuable resource available to those in need, but also give the tribe a much-needed source of additional government revenue.

During the subcommittee hearing on the bill the administration expressed concern that H.R. 1461 did not limit tribal authority for leasing water to off-reservation locations and that such a clarification was needed to prevent
possible application of State law to on-reservation water leases. Committee staff worked together to amend H.R. 1461 to clarify that the tribe's authorities are limited to off-reservation water leases. The tribe can now be assured that State law will never apply to on-reservation water leases, pursuant to H.R. 1461.

Mr. Speaker, we support H.R. 1461, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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