IBAPAH, UTAH – Despite constant objections, the federal government continues to trample upon and ignore the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation’s (CTGR) rights guaranteed them by the United States Constitution and the United States Supreme Court.
Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Programmatic Agreement (PA) for the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s (SNWA) Las Vegas water project. This move is a major step forward in the process that will allow Las Vegas the authority to pump up to 150,000 acre feet of water per year from CTGR and other Indian tribe’s reservation land into Sin City. “They’re going to let Las Vegas steal our water, build a pipeline that’s over 300 miles long and 8 feet wide, and decimate our people”, said Ed Naranjo, CTGR Chairman.
“The BLM is shoving this massive and reckless project down the throats of Indian tribes despite the fact that the federal government has a trust responsibility to preserve and protect all Indian tribal trust assets, which definitely includes water”, stated Madeline Greymountain, CTGR Vice Chair. The CTGR are not alone, there have been over 950 protests filed by both Indians and non-Indians against the project. Opponents of the project believe that not only have no other alternatives been explored for different water sources, but that Indian tribal water rights have not been quantified, and there has been no consultation with Indian tribes about the project.
The tribe is also concerned about the role the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has played in process. “What is most unconscionable here is that the BIA agreed that this was in the best interests of the Indian tribes in the area without ever talking to us, or even just picking up the phone to talk.”, said Madeline Greymountain, CTGR Vice Chair.
Susan Lynn, Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) coordinator, “Nothing much has changed in the BLM analysis of the adverse environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the SNWA project since their last EIS. This final EIS continues to show that it is an unsustainable groundwater mining project. Unless the BLM denies SNWA’s request for a pipeline now, we do not see how the they will be able to adequately protect the 12 million acres of public lands in eastern Nevada from massive water depletion and land subsidence, nor continue to provide for all the multiple users and wildlife which depend on healthy public lands.”
CTGR, GBWN, and several others will submit additional information to the BLM during the 60-day comment period required for the final EIS addressing the flaws of the 5,000 plus page document. “We’ll be going over the EIS with a fine tooth comb, looking to see if their information is accurate, if there are any legal issues, and all other impacts to determine our remedies under the law. Our job here is to protect the most valuable resource for our Tribes’ future. Even though the federal government wants to discard and ignore its trust responsibility, we will not go away and will take all actions necessary to stop this attempt to take our water. Water is life to us, if the federal government takes it away; we will cease to be a people.” Ed Naranjo, CTGR Chairman.