Tester Fails to Stand Up for Flathead Lake, Western Montana
On July 7th, The Flathead Beacon reported that liberal Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) "became the latest public official to reach out to federal agencies requesting intervention to mitigate the effects of the regional drought." This was several days after Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT01) and US Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) had already fired off several communications to the US Bureau of Reclamation (BOOR) regarding Flathead Lake water levels.
But at least Senator Tester finally weighed in, right? I guess. But he treated the Biden Administration with kid gloves, and failed to apply the political pressure needed to help the farmers and the mom and pop business owners in and around the Flathead Valley. The end result: the Biden BOR refused to release water from Hungry Horse Reservoir in order to stabilize lake levels at Flathead Lake.
This means that farmers will not be able to irrigate their crops, and local business owners will lose out on tourism and recreation business. As a Democrat in the closely divided US Senate, and given his connections to Joe Biden, Jon Tester had the power to make this happen. The bottom line: Tester failed to stand up for Flathead Lake and Western Montana, and he should be held accountable for this in 2024.
Rep. Zinke, meanwhile, tore into the Biden Administration for refusing the request of local officials to stabilize Flathead Lake levels.
Rep. Zinke: Let’s be clear, the Commissioner of Reclamation has the authority to make the executive decision and does not need to bow to the unelected bureaucrats at the TMT who care more about fish than people. USBR does not lack authority. The only thing they lack is leadership. Had Reclamation acted nearly 4 weeks ago when Senator Daines and I first raised this issue, and lake levels were about 8-inches below full pool, the damage would have been mitigated and the situation far less dire.
The enviro-Left base of Senator Tester's party, meanwhile, is basically singing the same song they always sing: blame climate change. But we've had drought years before and the feds released water, so why won't they release it this year? Why won't they help when they have the ability to do so? Because they want to sit back, do nothing, and hope that you simply- "blame climate change."
Background (per Zinke's office):
- June 29: Zinke, Daines Urged the Bureau of Reclamation to Increase Flow form Hungry Horse, Prevent Catastrophic Impacts on Flathead Lake.
- June 29: Zinke had phone conversations with USBR Commissioner Touton.
- June 30 Zinke had phone conversations with USBR Boise Regional Director Jennifer Carrington.
- July 1: Flathead county commissioners sent a letter to USBR to stabilize the lake.
- July 6: Governor Gianforte pressed USBR to stabilize the lake.
- July 8: Zinke continues to push ‘Fill the Lake’ during visit to Flathead County.
- July13: Governor Gianforte formally submitted an SOR to the TMT to stabilize the lake.
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