Today U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis voted with a bi-partisan majority of 238-174 to pass H.R. 3189: the Water Rights Protection Act. The bill bars federal agencies from demanding that citizens and businesses relinquish their water rights to the U.S. government to be considered for a public lands permit or lease. This federal government practice violates the constitutional guarantee of just compensation and goes against more than a century of federal deference to states' water rights. The bill also protects private entities from being forced to acquire water rights for the federal government instead of themselves.
"Public lands belong to the American people," said Rep. Lummis. "The federal government, however, has adopted policies to hold these lands hostage to force the concession of private water rights. This unconstitutional practice threatens the water rights of public land permittees like ranchers and ski resorts, while undermining state water law and local conservation efforts. In Wyoming we understand that water is our most precious natural resource, we work diligently to conserve and manage it, and we will fight to keep it in Wyoming's hands. We in the House acted today to curtail this egregious overreach and protect private water rights from federal extortion."