House Sides With Ski Resorts and Agribusiness in Private Water Rights Bill

On March 3, 2014, the House of Representatives passed legislation to prevent the federal government from retaining water rights as a condition for allowing private interests to use publicly-owned land. The bill is supported by agricultural and recreation interests that use public lands for things like grazing cattle and operating ski resorts, and argue that retaining water rights is essential for their continued operation. Opponents argue that the bill is overly broad and threatens the federal government's ability to regulate water use and maintain the health of the natural ecosystem.

The White House has said that President Obama would veto the bill if it were to pass the Senate and reach his desk.

  • Representatives voting in favor of the bill have received, on average, 4.7 times more money from interests supporting it—including the livestock industry, resorts, and local government organizations—than Representatives voting against it.
  • Representatives from Colorado voting in favor of the bill have received, on average, 4.1 times more money from interests supporting it—including the livestock industry, resorts, and local government organizations—than Representatives from Colorado voting against it.
  • Representative Scott Tipton, R-Co., the bill's chief sponsor, has received $59,250 from interests supporting the bill, and just $1,000 from interests opposing it.

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Methodology: MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to members of Congress from PACs and employees of interest groups supporting or opposing H.R. 3189, from January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2012.

Image source: Clemens v. Vogelsang/Flickr

About MapLight: MapLight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that reveals money's influence on politics. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.