Daines’ bill hurts farmers, ranchers and the future

by Catherine Vandemoer
February 13, 2020 12:50 PM

Once again, CSKT Compact promoter Cory Swanson weighs in with misleading statements (Feb. 2) about the Daines-Tester CSKT Compact. Just because the senator calls it the “Montana Water Rights Protection Act” doesn’t mean it protects water rights. Ask the 2,500 people who lose their water rights as a result of the joint Daines-Tester effort against property rights in Montana in the name of “Indian water settlements.” Ask the citizens of Montana who now are “given” co-ownership of their water with the Tribes. Ask future Montanans why they won’t be able to develop water because of the CSKT Compact.

The Daines-Tester bill retains the compact’s “Law of Administration” which effectively removes the state of Montana from managing even its own state law-based water rights. It also removes the constitutional protections of Montana citizens, but keeps the taxation going. The Daines bill insertion of state courts to “solve” the jurisdiction issue, without removing the compact’s “law of administration” is simply a political trick to try to sway the uninformed. It is reflective of a political solution that has no basis in law, and worse than that, no humanity—the Daines CSKT Compact is about “winners and losers.”

We need public servants who tell the truth. It used to be that only Democrats misnamed bills to hide their true intention. Now we have Republicans doing it too.

Swanson, Fox, Daines, White, and Gianforte played politics with Montanan’s lives, water and property rights, and deserve no quarter for misleading the public.

—Catherine Vandemoer is chair of the Montana Land and Water Alliance based in Polson.