April 26, 2006
Jefferson City, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said today that his office will file a lawsuit this week seeking an injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the Corps' plan to release water from upstream reservoirs on the Missouri River in a "spring rise" beginning May 1. Nixon says the routine use of a man-made spring rise at this time of year could threaten hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland in Missouri.
"Only two days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a court order reiterating that flood control and navigation are the highest priorities for management of the Missouri River," Nixon said. "Releasing water during a time of year when the lower Missouri River valley experiences frequent rainstorms substantially increases the risk that prime farmland will be flooded and that many Missouri farmers will take a financial hit. The Corps' hurried process for evaluating potential alternatives failed to adequately account for these serious impacts. We're suing to stop this wasteful and risky spring rise."
Nixon's lawsuit will be filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, because that court has maintained jurisdiction over federal legal action concerning the Missouri River.
The Corps of Engineers revised its Master Manual for managing the Missouri River in March 2004 after 15 years of study and consultation. Nixon said the planned spring rise for 2006 represents a major change in the Master Manual that was not analyzed in a federal environmental impact statement.
Nixon's office has defended Missouri interests in the management of the Missouri River for more than 13 years, winning a decision from the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 that affirmed the management priorities of the river as being flood control and navigation. The upstream states of North Dakota and South Dakota asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case; the high court said on Monday (April 24) that it would not consider the case.