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League of Conservation Voters and Progress Now Action Send Open Letter to John McCain

Contact: Joshua McNeil, (202) 785-8683 or September 5, 2008  

DENVER – As Senator McCain prepares to make a campaign stop in Colorado, leaders and organizations representing thousands of Colorado voters sent the following letter to Senator McCain’s campaign.

Dear Sen. John McCain:
We’re looking forward to your visit to Colorado tomorrow.   As a Senator from a Western state, you should know how important clean water is to the people of Colorado.  On your website, you state: “Ensuring safe and healthy water is a patriotic responsibility.”
While you’re here, we’d appreciate your taking the time to clarify why you stated that the Colorado River Compact, which has governed water rights for 76 years, should be renegotiated and why you voted against clean water ten of twelve times it came up in the Senate.
On August 15, you told the Pueblo Chieftain:
I don't think there's any doubt the major, major issue is water and can be as important as oil. So the compact that is in effect, obviously, needs to be renegotiated over time amongst the interested parties.

Since you’re from Arizona, Coloradans assumed, reasonably, that you want to divert Colorado’s water to your home state of Arizona and elsewhere.
So, as you came under more scrutiny in the press, you felt the need to write a letter to Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) about the topic. You wrote:
Let me be clear that I do not advocate renegotiation of the compact. I support constructive, continuing cooperation and dialogue among the states and the water users in a manner that is fully consistent with the compact. (McCain letter to Sen. Allard, Aug. 20)

Your spokesman, Tom Kise, told the press that your letter to Allard speaks for itself, and refused to answer questions about it.  During your visit tomorrow, we believe it’s time for you to speak for yourself. Please address the unanswered questions about this issue, including the following:
·   We all make mistakes, but can you explain how you could state one week that the Colorado River Compact “obviously needs to be renegotiated over time” and then write the next week that “I do not advocate renegotiation of the Compact.”
·   Originally, you stated that the Colorado River Compact should be renegotiated because it doesn’t take into account changing population and water needs. Arizona, along with California and Nevada, are states whose population has increased. Do you believe that your state, Arizona, deserves more water than it currently gets?
·   As you know, disputes among western states over water would disappear if there were more water available. One way to achieve this is through conservation. As President, how would you help western states conserve water?
·   If elected, would you abandon your opposition to clean water and support the Clean Water Restoration Act?
Given the importance of water to our state and region, we believe you should take time to answer these questions personally and directly while you are here.
J.D. MacFarlane, former Colorado Attorney General
Tony Massaro, League of Conservation Voters
Michael Huttner, Progress Now Action

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