Senator Coordinating Joint North Dakota, South Dakota Letter in Opposition to Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Hoeven today again voiced his opposition to a recent proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers to charge businesses, farmers and ranchers for access to Missouri River water.

His comments came in a telephone conversation with Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, who updated the Senator on the progress of her decision. The plan, proposed in the Lake Sakakawea Draft Surplus Water Report and Environmental Assessment released by the Corps in December, calls for levying fees to recover the cost of the nearly 60-year-old Garrison Dam project.

Darcy told Hoeven that a large volume of comments on the proposal came in during the public comment period, which has prompted her to delay her ruling on implementation of the plan by up to 30 days. She promised to keep the Senator informed on the agency’s progress.

“There is clearly no legal, historical or ethical basis for charging North Dakotans for the use of a resource that rightfully belongs to North Dakotans,” Hoeven said. “We’ve again asked Secretary Darcy to resolve the issue.”

Hoeven is also coordinating a joint letter to the Corps from members of the North Dakota and South Dakota congressional delegations underscoring widespread concern in communities along the river basin about the project and the precedent it sets.

At a meeting Hoeven held in Bismarck last month with the Omaha District Commander, a series of mayors, county commissioners, tribal leaders, economic development specialists and industry representatives joined the Senator in unanimously telling Corps leaders to oppose the proposal.