La Paz County and the Arizona Association of Counties Files Amicus Brief In Support of Mohave County’s Fight for Planet Ranch Water Rights

Lake Havasu City, AZ –La Paz County along with the Arizona Association of Counties (AACo) have filed a joint amicus brief with the Arizona Supreme Court in support of Mohave County’s standing in the Planet Ranch water rights case.  AACo represents Arizona’s 15 counties across the state and over 331 elected officials.  “I want to sincerely thank AACo and La Paz County in supporting our standing on this issue.  Their support shows the importance of Arizona counties being allowed to stand up and participate in matters important to their jurisdiction,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated.   In AACo and La Paz County’s joint amicus brief, they explained the importance of Arizona counties being allowed to participate in matters pertaining to the use, consumption, conservation and transfer of water resources within their jurisdiction.  One of Mohave County’s argument against the sever and transfer of water rights at Planet Ranch was that they were not involved in settlement agreements nor notified in a timely matter.  “Mohave County’s concerns were never heard and we were completely left out of negotiations when it came to the drafting of the Bill Williams River Water Settlement Act,” Johnson stated.  “This amicus brief shows support of our standing from an outside organization that does not have a direct relation to this case.  By AACo filing this brief, it gives Mohave County a stronger voice,” Johnson continued.   Maricopa Superior Court Judge, Crane McClennen, ruled back in June that Mohave County has the right to object to Freeport McMoRan’s proposed water rights transfers within its jurisdiction on behalf of its constituents.  According to Johnson, the water rights transfer would take about 10,000 acre feet of water away from Mohave County citizens.  “This large amount of water amounts to roughly 3.26 billion gallons which is enough to provide water to well over 20,000 homes,” Johnson said.  Freeport filed an appeal in regards to Judge McClennen’s ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court who agreed to hear the case in the beginning of this month.   The Supreme Court will now decide if they will accept the amicus brief into the final record.    

Johnson’s Comments on the Passage of the Bill Williams River Water Settlement Act of 2014

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson is deeply disappointed with the actions of Congress and the Arizona delegation for their approval of the Bill Williams River Water Settlement Act of 2014, HR 4924 and S 2503, which are supposed to design a fair and equitable settlement of numerous claims within the Bill Williams River Watershed.  Among the parties involved are the Hualapai Tribe, U.S. Dept. of Interior (acting for themselves and the Tribe), Arizona Game and Fish, and Freeport McMoRan Minerals Corporation. “This is an extremely complicated issue in which HR 4924 attempts to conjoin two separate settlement agreements in an attempt to satisfy various interests in the Big Sandy River/Planet Ranch Water Rights settlement agreement and the Hualapai Tribe/Bill Williams River Water Rights settlement agreement,” Johnson said Friday. “It is unfortunate that our Congressional delegation, including the sponsors Senator Jeff Flake and   Congressman Paul Gosar, who represent Mohave County in Congress, ignored local concerns in favor of single constituent legislation which will benefit a special interest group.”  Gosar has hailed the passage of HR 4924 as a trigger for good paying jobs and additional tax revenue associated with continued use of the Bagdad Mine.  Gosar also claimed that his legislation was scored by the Congressional Budget Office as revenue neutral for the federal government. “It’s absolutely mindboggling that Congressman Gosar did not heed the concerns of Mohave County Assessor Ron Nicholson,” Johnson said.  “He provided a complete background report on this proposed settlement demonstrating significant negative impacts on our tax resource base in Mohave County.  It’s also a shame that Congressman Gosar ignored the public stance of the coalition of Mohave County Chambers of Commerce as well as the documented history of Mohave County government in opposing this rip-off of Mohave County resources.  The water and lands are in Mohave and La Paz Counties but neither was asked or allowed to participate in their own futures,” Johnson explained. “The Mohave County Board of Supervisors has communicated their deep concerns on previous occasions to Congressman Gosar but it appears he is unwilling to consider the concerns of Mohave County, and instead favors the corporate interests of Freeport McMoRan and the Bagdad Mine,” Johnson continued.  “At a time when Congress cannot pass let alone balance a budget, fix immigration or address healthcare, our delegation finds time to contact every member of congress for their support on stripping Mohave County of its natural resources.   These same Congressmen who lamented ‘Generational Theft’ have stripped Mohave County’s ability for economic growth.  It is a sad day in our state when our elected federal officials choose to favor special interest groups over the well-being of those taxpayers living in the area.  We did not send them to D.C. to be puppets for the mining company Freeport McMoRan or any other special interest group,” Johnson stated. Johnson closed by noting, “It has always been a hallmark of Republican orthodoxy that deference should be paid to priorities established by the level of government … Continue Reading →