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AG Paxton Responds to SCOTUS Decision Allowing the Biden Administration to Prevent Resolution of Water Dispute Between States

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued a statement responding to the split decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) that grants the federal government even more authority over States and halts the agreement between Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado that would have secured vital water allotments for Texas farmers.

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In 2013, Texas sued New Mexico to enforce the equitable apportionment of the waters of the Rio Grande as agreed upon in the 1938 Rio Grande Compact. After nearly ten years, the States reached an agreement acceptable to all the States that would ensure Texas received a just water distribution. In 2023, the Special Master appointed by SCOTUS supported the States’ agreement, saying, “[I]t is difficult to envision a resolution to this matter that might be superior to the Consent Decree [that Texas seeks].”

However, in a 5-4 decision, the Court has now rejected that agreement at the behest of the Biden Administration, thereby allowing the federal government to interfere with agreements between the States within their own jurisdictions.

“I am disappointed that a narrow majority of the Supreme Court has unfortunately and incorrectly granted the federal government even more power over the States,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Every State in this case and even the special master appointed by the Supreme Court itself supported the consent decree that would put an end to more than a decade of litigation and ensure Texas farmers have access to vital water supplies. However, the Biden Administration objected, claiming that they can unilaterally block the States’ resolution of a dispute between the States themselves. We will continue to work to ensure that the rights of Texas farmers are protected during the next steps of the process.”

In the dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch explained: “The Court’s decision is inconsistent with how original jurisdiction cases normally proceed. It defies 100 years of this Court’s water law jurisprudence. And it represents a serious assault on the power of States to govern, as they always have, the water rights of users in their jurisdictions.”

To read the opinion and dissent, click here.

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