Today is a historic day for Montana taxpayers, ranchers, farmers, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Water is life, and the Compact honors our trust responsibilities, creates jobs, and prevents decades of costly litigation while investing in infrastructure and providing certainty to water users everywhere. I am proud to have led the effort to get this Compact signed into law, and I will continue working with the Tribes and water users to hold the government accountable and ensure it is implemented quickly and effectively.
Senator Jon Tester
After years of effort, our bipartisan bill that settles the century long CSKT water dispute is now law. This is a huge win for all Montanans. Our bill protects the water rights of all Montanans, saves taxpayer dollars, creates jobs, modernizes rural infrastructure, protects Montana agriculture and prevents costly litigation. I’m very glad I could play a direct role in getting this done, and I thank President Trump for signing our bill into law.
Senator Steve Daines
This law is a win for all Montanans. Our farmers, ranchers, the Salish and Kootenai tribes, and all water users across the state will now have the certainty they need. Thank you President Trump and my colleagues in the Senate for getting this across the finish line.
Congressman Greg Gianforte
Thank you to Senator Daines and Senator Tester for their leadership and continued perseverance for a permanent water settlement. An additional thanks goes to Representative Gianforte for his stewardship in the House. The success of Montana’s agriculture industry is dependent upon water and water rights certainty. It is easily the single most important resource for people across Montana, which is why MSGA has long supported an agreement such as the Montana Water Rights Protection Act.
Montana Stockgrowers Association President Jim Steinbeisser
The passage of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act is great news for Montana. The legislation is a product of decades of negotiation and will settle farmers and ranchers water rights as far east as the Milk, Musselshell and Yellowstone rivers. This bipartisan bill and settlement is a good-faith compromise that will bring final resolution to a century-long water dispute, avoiding years of costly litigation. We especially want to thank bill sponsor Senator Steve Daines for all of his hard and also thank Senator Tester for co-sponsoring this legislation.
Executive Vice President for Montana Farm Bureau John Youngberg
I cannot express how much we appreciate the hard work that the Montana Congressional Delegation put into this bill and now having it signed into law. From Senator Tester’s initial introduction of the bill four years ago, to Senator Daines’ introduction, amendments and work with the Trump Administration this year and to both of our Senators urging their respective leaders to include the bill in the omnibus appropriations bill, and to Congressman Gianforte’s work with the Minority Leader in the House, all played pivotal roles and the residents of Montana should be thankful for their efforts. We certainly are grateful. We also express our appreciation to the many agriculture and conservation groups across Montana and even across the country who also helped advocate for passage of this truly historic and important bill.
CSKT Chairwoman Shelly R. Fyant
We appreciate the work and time that both Senator Daines and Senator Tester have put into the passage of this agreement. Without their steadfast support for Montana water users, Montana’s agriculture industry would have taken over a billion dollar hit at a time when they could afford it the least. Our Senators have put in place an agreement that will ensure the future of agriculture in our state and protect our water resources for generations to come, while investing in Montana’s economy and saving our taxpayers, farmers, and ranchers millions of dollars.
Co-chair Farmers and Ranchers for Montana Tom Beck
“Passage of the Montana Water Right Protection Act provides for settlement of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes water right claims that are crucial to providing certainty regarding adjudication of Montana water rights. Passage of this important settlement legislation will prevent costly litigation, protect water rights throughout Montana, and very importantly, recognize and protect Montana’s primacy over our water resources. We extend our appreciation to Senator Steve Daines, Senator Jon Tester, and Congressman Greg Gianforte for their support and efforts to enable passage of this important legislation.”
Montana Water Resources Association Executive Director Mike Murphy
“In a clear betrayal of our state and of President Trump, Senator Steve Daines slipped the CSKT Water Compact into the coronavirus relief bill, despite his legislation having nothing to do with coronavirus. With a less than 5% chance of being enacted, the deceptively-named “Montana Water Rights Protection Act” was added at the last minute. This went against his oath of office in which he swore on the Bible to protect the constitution.
“We will continue this battle in court, where we are confident the CSKT Water Compact will see defeat. Montanans want this issue to ultimately be resolved in Montana in accordance with existing state and federal law. This is exactly what we had asked Senator Daines do. However he proceeded unilaterally to hurt Montana when he acted as a member of the DC Swamp that voters rejected in 2016 and 2020.”
Statement signed by House Majority Leader Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, Senators Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell; Sen. Dee Brown, R-Hungry Horse; Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell; Rep. Alan Redfield, R-Livingston; Sen. Bob Keenan, R-Big Fork; Montana GOP Vice Chair, Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls; Rep.-Elect Steve Galloway, R-Great Falls; Rep. Greg DeVries, R-Jefferson City; Sen. Roger Webb, R-Billings; Rep. Peggy Webb, R-Billings; Sen. Dave Howard, R-Park City; Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell; Rep. Theresa Manzella, R-Hamilton; Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell; Rep. Joe Read, R-Ronan.