WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today led the Montana and North Dakota congressional delegations in urging the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to prioritize concerns at the Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam.
In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy and BOR Commissioner Estevan Lopez, the bipartisan delegations emphasized the economic benefit that the dam provides to both Montana and North Dakota.
On September 8, a federal judge blocked construction of the planned dam along the Yellowstone River near the Montana-North Dakota border due to environmental concerns.
“We urge ACE and BOR to address the concerns of the Court and conduct the necessary analyses in a timely manner to ensure this essential source of water for farmers, ranchers, and communities throughout much of northeastern Montana and northwestern North Dakota is not unduly disrupted,” the Montana and North Dakota congressional delegations wrote. “This project is critical to close to four hundred farms and irrigates over 50,000 acres of cropland, and time is of the essence as winter is approaching and inclement weather could further damage existing infrastructure.”
The delegations called on the ACE an BOR to quickly address the court’s concerns, “As ACE and BOR move forward in addressing the issues detailed by the Court in granting the injunction, we request ACE and BOR act in as expeditious a manner as possible.”
This delegations’ letter received support from the Richland County Commissioners:
“The Commissioners from Richland County, Montana want to thank all our congressional delegates from both Montana and North Dakota for standing together on this important issue. Through this non-partisan effort they have come together to represent all the citizens of eastern Montana and western North Dakota. We are trusting these leaders to come to a workable solution to save the fish and the farmer.”
The letter is also signed by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Representatives Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND).
The Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project is a major contributor to the economies of the region and provides water to 50,000 acres that produce sugar beets, barley, alfalfa, beans and other crops.
The full text of the letter is available here.