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August 11, 2017

Stenehjem Applauds Court’s Ruling

BISMARCK, ND – The twelve year long court proceedings that have delayed construction of the Northwest Area Water Supply project may finally be at an end, announced Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. In an opinion issued late yesterday, the District Court in Washington, DC concluded that the Environmental Impact Statement for the NAWS project met the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

The NAWS project will bring much-needed water from the Missouri River to Minot and surrounding counties in northwest North Dakota.  

The State Water Commission and Bureau of Reclamation began construction on the NAWS project in early 2002. Soon after, the Province of Manitoba sued under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and the project has been entangled in litigation since then. Though much of the distribution system and supply pipelines have been constructed, the remaining work has been subject to various court injunctions since 2005. In addition, the State of Missouri joined the litigation against North Dakota in 2009. The court also dismissed the State of Missouri’s claims and lifted all the injunctions that have hampered the project.

“This is a significant victory for the citizens of North Dakota,” said Stenehjem. “Although the opinion is subject to appeal, this is a giant step forward in resolving the legal issues that have delayed the completion of the NAWS project for over a decade.”

In its opinion, the court noted “[A]s long as the federal agency has adequately identified its options, seriously studied and evaluated the consequences of each, identified and adopted reasonable measures to mitigate adverse consequences, and selected its action after balancing all of the above, NEPA will not prevent the agency from going ahead.”

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Read the Court's Opinion

Media contact: Liz Brocker (701) 328-2213

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