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House passes Amodei Pyramid Lake bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Mark Amodei’s (NV-2) H.R. 3716, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe – Fish Springs Ranch Settlement Act, by a bipartisan voice vote. The bill would ratify an agreement between the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and Fish Springs Ranch to resolve a dispute over water rights near Reno. It is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed into law.

“I want to thank Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-4) for understanding the issues Nevada faces as a Western state with respect to water rights and the ratification of federal settlements,” said Amodei. “This bill was introduced in December and now is on its way to becoming law. The approach is simple, straightforward and I applaud its passage.”

H.R. 3716 requires no federal funding since it is a private transaction between the tribe and Fish Springs Ranch and simply allows a private bargain to be carried out while assuring no federal liability can be invoked.

In 2005, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued an environmental impact statement (EIS) analyzing a water pipeline projects crossing public lands to provide groundwater from the Honey Lake Valley to the Reno area. A right-of-way across BLM land was issued for Fish Springs in 2006. The Tribe opposed the BLM action by appealing the decision to the Interior Department and suing in federal court. A settlement was reached in 2007 that resulted in dismissal of the appeal and resolution of the suit pending approval of Federal legislation to ratify the settlement.

The part of the settlement requiring federal legislation provides that the tribe would subordinate the water rights and groundwater rights it could establish in the future to Fish Springs to pump up to 14,108 acre feet of groundwater. The Tribe would waive potential claims against Fish Springs for damages related to existing and claimed tribal water rights. In return, the tribe would receive $3.6 million from Fish Springs, plus interest back to January 2007.

This legislation would authorize the tribe to grant the waivers against both Fish Springs and the United States. The provisions would take effect after the tribe signs the waivers and Fish Springs pays the tribe. The Tribe would also dismiss pending litigation against BLM for violations of National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and trust responsibilities related to the Fish Springs groundwater project, which would eliminate any potential federal liability.

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    repName Congressman Mark Amodei  
    helpWithFedAgencyAddress 332 Cannon House Office Building
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    district 2nd District of Nevada  
    academyUSCitizenDate July 1, 2016  
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