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Effort to Repeal State Water Conservation Goal Dies, Might Be Revived Next Year

Filed by KOSU News in State Impact.
March 23, 2013

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Oklahoma State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore.

The Water for 2060 Act has survived a repeal effort from Oklahoma State Representative Paul Wesselholft, R-Moore.

Wesselhoft confirmed to StateImpact on Thursday that his repeal bill will not be voted on by the full House, even though it passed through the Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee by a 9-1 vote.

The Water for 2060 Act was passed in the 2012 legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. It sets a goal for the state to use no more freshwater in 2060 than it did in 2012, but the measure doesn’t included an enforceable mandate.

House Bill1562 would have repealed a large portion of the law, and replaced it with very similar language, minus the references to the year 2060, and set a softer goal of assuring “that Oklahoma has adequate fresh water supplies to meet the needs of a growing population and economy throughout this century.”

Wesselhoft thinks estimates he’s seen that Oklahoma’s population will grow by one-third by mid-century are conservative, especially given the state’s pro-business environment.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we got more like 50 percent growth in that time,” Wesselhoft says.

And it’s his view that so much growth makes the Water for 2060 Act a “state goal designed to fail.”

That’s not Wesselhoft’s only problem with the law.

The dispute between the Tarrant Regional Water District and the State of Oklahoma over whether Texas has a right to consume water from southeast Oklahoma will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April. Wesselhoft says the Water for 2060 Act sends a message to the court “that makes it sound like we have plenty of water and don’t need any more.”

He also criticized the law for having similar goals to the ones “the United Nations sets for communities.”

Wesselhoft is among several lawmakers who’ve authored legislation to counteract the UN’s Agenda 21, a non-binding conservation and sustainability plan. He says there may be another attempt to repeal the Water for 2060 Act next legislative session.

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