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Benson: in western water, we need the federal gorilla

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Our own UNM Law Professor Reed Benson, speaking at the American Bar Association’s annual water law conference in Las Vegas, made the case for the importance of a stronger federal role in sorting out potential conflicts among states dealing with an increasingly scarce resource:

Reed Benson, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law in Albuquerque, said states need what he called a gorilla in the room, and federal money, to reach agreements.

“Federal money has been, and is today, important in addressing challenges with water resources where the deep pocket is needed,” Benson said. He cited the need for parties to cooperate and compromise on issues affecting water basins stretching across several states, questions about tribal water rights, and overarching concerns about water quality and quantity.

“Finally, climate change is going to make these issues all the more difficult and that much more challenging,” Benson said.

Professor Benson’s been spending some time lately sharing bit-sized pieces of his work on this and related questions on his blog, and the longer wonkier versions of his ideas are here.



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