Legislative shortsightedness on water may harm Oklahoma

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: February 14, 2013
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You might think the ongoing drought would cause lawmakers to carefully consider long-term water needs. Instead, state legislators appear headed in the opposite direction.

The Water for 2060 Act passed last year with strong bipartisan support. It included language setting a goal for Oklahoma to consume no more fresh water in 2060 than in 2012. That's only a goal — not a mandate — but state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, finds it “reckless.” He filed House Bill 1562 to repeal that language. HB 1562 got committee approval with bipartisan support.

When presenting the bill, Wesselhoft declared the water goal is “the kind of language that comes out of the United Nations; it's Agenda 21” — immediately before saying he likes some Agenda 21 goals, just not water objectives. Make of that what you will.

But Wesselhoft also argued the conservation goal signals Oklahoma's water needs won't increase in the next half-century, weakening our position in ongoing legal disputes with Texas. That's nonsense. Conservation efforts indicate officials expect demand to eventually outpace supply, not anticipation of unending surplus.

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