Statement by Reclamation Commissioner John Keys on United States Petition to Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

Media Contact: Trudy Harlow, (202) 513-0574

For Release: August 11, 2003

On August 8, 2003, the United States filed a petition asking the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to re-hear or re-hear en banc the case of Silvery Minnow v. Keys. In that case, the Tenth Circuit held in June 2003 that the Bureau of Reclamation has broad authority to use water from the Middle Rio Grande Project and the San Juan-Chama Project to protect the Rio Grande silvery minnow, a species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. According to the court, this authority exists even when releases for the fish would result in water shortages for cities, farmers and other Project water users. The United States strongly disagrees with the court’s ruling. If the petition for rehearing en banc is granted, the entire court will re-hear the case, and the parties will have an opportunity to brief the issues again.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.