DOJ: News Release

McGrath: U.S. Supreme Court Accepts Case Against Wyoming

HELENA – Attorney General Mike McGrath said Tuesday that the United States Supreme Court has accepted Montana’s case against Wyoming.

“This is a great day for the people in the Yellowstone River Basin and a great day for all of Montana,” McGrath said.

In February 2007, Montana sued Wyoming in an effort to enforce the provisions of the Yellowstone River Compact. Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota entered into the compact in December 1950, and the states’ legislatures ratified it. The U.S. Congress consented to the compact in October 1951.

The order released Tuesday grants Montana’s motion to file a complaint. The Court gave Wyoming 45 days to file a motion to dismiss and Montana 30 days to respond to that motion.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases in which one state sues another, but the Court did not have to accept this case,” McGrath said.

Montana interprets the compact to allocate the waters that were in actual use in each state at the time of the compact. Wyoming, meantime, asserts that “pre-1950″ rights are excluded from the compact.

“We are pleased that the Court will give us a ruling on the terms of the compact itself,” McGrath said. “We are comfortable that our interpretation will hold water.”

The complaint asked the court to order Wyoming to deliver more water in the Tongue and Powder Rivers according to the compact and award the State of Montana damages, costs and other relief.

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