Sen. Jeff Rabon on Tuesday criticized the recent House passage of a resolution encouraging the Attorney General to defend the state in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s moratorium on the out-of-state sales of Oklahoma water.
Approval of House Concurrent Resolution 1088, Rabon said, amounted to little more than political grandstanding.
“Given that a federal lawsuit challenging the moratorium is still pending, passage of a resolution expressing intent to extend the moratorium is senseless,” said Rabon, D-Hugo. “It’s nothing more than posturing. I’ll be doing everything in my power to guarantee this isn’t heard in the Senate.”
In January 2007, the Tarrant Regional Water District, serving Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, filed the lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s moratorium on out-of-state water sales. Initially approved by the Legislature in 2002, the moratorium in 2004 was extended until November 1, 2009, or until the state completes a comprehensive scientific hydrological study of water resources.
The Texas proposal seeks to make use of runoff water which flows from the Kiamichi River into the Red River. Officials from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board estimate that between 1.5 and 1.7 million acre feet of water empties each year from the Kiamichi River into the Red River, where it becomes too salty to be used as drinking water.
“Without having a completed study from which to reference and without having a settled opinion on the constitutionality of the moratorium, it makes absolutely no sense to offer, let alone approve this resolution,” Rabon said. “The original statute is what got us into federal court in the first place. It’s an issue that demands a more measured approach, rather than being reduced to an opportunity for grandstanding.”