Regier should support CSKT Water Compact for the ‘Greater Good’

by Dr. Ed Berry

Montanans do not support Rep. Keith Regier’s values.

Rep. Keith Regier’s reply to my letter of October 4 (see below) shows a good candidate can defeat him in his next election.

By his own admission, Regier could not understand my October 4 letter. He may not understand this one either.

Regier wrote, “I simply vote my values; values that the majority of voters in HD 4 agree.”

Let’s review how Regier’s “values” compare to voters in HD 4.

Rep. Regier did not support Ryan Zinke for Congress. In 2014, HD 4 gave Regier 2658 votes and Zinke 2585 votes, a difference of only 73. Therefore, Regier’s anti-Zinke values represent less than 3 percent of HD 4 voters, not the majority as he claims.

Regier did not support the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Water Compact. His key reason is the Compact “gives the tribe off-reservation water rights” and “no other tribal water compact grants off-reservation water rights.” His other reasons are even more absurd.

Attorney Hertha Lund and other Compact attorneys rebutted Regier’s claims. But Regier continues to repeat his falsehoods.

First, the CSKT were the only Montana tribes to sign a Stevens Treaty, specifically the Hellgate Treaty. So their water compact will necessarily differ from the other compacts.

Second, the Compact does not “give” the CSKT off-reservation water rights. The US Supreme Court 1905 Winans’ and 1908 Winters’ decisions, and other court rulings, support Hellgate Treaty off-reservation water rights. The Compact merely acknowledges this fact and would be legally deficient if it did not.

Third, Regier thinks only in absolute negatives and ignores Compact benefits. But the Compact demands we answer the relative question: Will Montana be better served with or without the Compact?

For example, under the Compact, the CSKT relinquish their right to make calls on existing water rights both on and off the reservation. This solves a lot of problems. The Compact also cleverly uses CSKT’s off-reservation priority to block downriver states from calling Montana’s water under drought conditions.

Regier’s values follow the immoral absolute mantra, “I can’t vote for the lesser of two evils,” which rejects the greater good and achieves the worst result.

If Regier used the moral relative mantra, “I must vote to achieve the greater good,” he would understand Zinke is better for conservatives than Democrat John Lewis, and the Compact is better for Montana than no Compact.

We must elect representatives who understand how to make relative decisions and who will vote to achieve the greater good. We cannot afford legislative disasters like Regier almost caused when he opposed the Water Compact.


 

by Keith Regier, DIL October 11

In his op-ed on Oct. 4 titled “Very conservative evangelicals bad for GOP?” Ed Berry frequently referred to me. His disjointed ramblings made it difficult for readers to see his point. He seems to think that I am pushing an ideology on others. I am not. It is Ed that wrote the op-ed to advance his position. I simply vote my values; values that the majority of voters in HD 4 agree. His made-up labels with fabricated numbers and percentages gives the appearance of a politician that, when confronted with the truth, talks in confusing circles.

Mr. Berry spent much of his writing supporting the Confederated Salish and Kootenai water compact — a compact that I opposed. He said that he spent 200 hours studying the compact and that I didn’t review it. I did study the compact, and it didn’t take me 200 hours to realize it is not good for Montana.

I opposed it for several reasons. It gives the tribe off-reservation water rights. No other tribal water compact grants off-reservation rights. The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Fish Wildlife and Parks have done a good job managing stream flows in this state. They should maintain total control. It will cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. I believe those paying taxes are paying more than needed. Adding more to that burden is not justified.

I also disagreed with non-tribal land owners living inside the reservation boundaries being put under a new water court that has strong tribal control. The Montana Water Court has done a great job adjudicating water rights, and that is where disputes should be handled.

Mr. Berry is correct on one thing when he says “by their votes we shall know them.” I would hope that all legislators would strive for government that works for the people; not the other way around; and not overly burdensome with taxes. That’s a concept Ed does not comprehend. —Keith Regier, Kalispell Republican, House District 4

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