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United Family Farmers, Inc. v. Kleppe

Citation: 7 ELR 20340
No. No. 76-1532, 552 F.2d 823/(8th Cir., 04/07/1977) Aff'd

Affirming the lower court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals blocks plaintiffs' attempts to enjoin construction of the Oahe Diversion Unit of the Missouri River Basin Project. The Oahe Unit is intended to divert water from an existing reservoir for industrial and recreational uses and to irrigate 190,000 acres in two South Dakota counties. Plaintiffs sought to enjoin construction because the Interior Secretary had not executed recordable contracts with all excess land owners within the project for sale of their excess lands at government-fixed prices, allegedly in violation of the 1914 Reclamation Extension Act. The district court held that the 1926 Omnibus Adjustment Act, which prohibits delivery of water to excess land until a recordable contract for its sale has been executed, superseded the 1914 Act's requirements for all projects built after 1926. The Eighth Circuit rejected plaintiffs' argument that the requirements under the two acts are not inconsistent. Congress sought to promote anti-monopoly and anti-speculation policies of the reclamation laws but this was not achieved until the 1926 Act, which is conditioned on delivery of water. To avoid delay in project construction, which is the intent of Congress, the later Act must be read as superseding the earlier one. For construction of Oahe to be conditioned upon the execution of recordable contracts, Congress must expressly so provide in the project authorization.The court notes that no such provision is present here.

For an earlier decision in this case finding against plaintiffs on a NEPA claim, see 6 ELR 20758.

Counsel for Appellants
Martin Weeks
Bogue, Weeks & Rusch
National Bank Bldg, Vermillion SD 57069
(605) 624-2619

John Henry Davidson Jr.
School of Law, University of South Dakota
Vermillion SD 57069
(605) 677-5361

Counsel for Appellees
Martin Green
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2736

Joined by Ross & Wangelin, JJ.*