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Facts, not hyperbole, will decide Texas water district's lawsuit against Oklahoma

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: January 8, 2013

For several years, the water district has been interested in buying water that runs unused out of Oklahoma into the Red River and piping it to the Fort-Worth Arlington area to help that part of Texas continue its growth — growth, we've noted in the past, that benefits businesses and other interests in southern Oklahoma. The Tarrant proposal has been met with stiff opposition in southeastern Oklahoma (although there are some voices there who have tried to strike a deal), and by the Legislature.

The water district sued the state of Oklahoma in 2007. Two years later, lawmakers passed a bill that said the sale of water to any out-of-state interests would have to be approved by the Legislature — essentially ensuring that no such sales will ever be made. Tarrant contends that the bill violates the compact.

The water district has fared poorly in court thus far. In 2010, a federal judge in Oklahoma City dismissed the district's lawsuit. The following year, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the lower court's dismissal. One month later, that court denied a request for rehearing before the full court.

The district may stumble yet again with the Supreme Court, which is expected to hear arguments in April. If Tarrant is unsuccessful, it won't be because Oklahoma is or isn't experiencing a drought. It will be because Texas officials lost in a court of law, not the court of public opinion.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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