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Colorado Department of Law — Annual Report 2009 - page 21 / 41





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Colorado Department of Law — Annual Report 2009

Natural Resources Section

The Natural Resources and Environment Section works on behalf of Coloradoans to protect and improve the quality of our State’s natural environment and to ensure intelligent use and development of our natural resources. The Section provides legal counsel and representation to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and any other state agency or official with a natural resource or environmental issue. The Section also advocates on behalf of the State Natural Resources Trustees to recover damages for injuries to natural resources and to restore those resources.

Federal and Interstate Water

The Natural Resources Section protects Colorado’s interests in its interstate rivers.

In 2009, attorneys:

  • Successfully represented the State of Colorado in the Republican River Compact Arbitration. Following extensive legal briefing and trial, the arbitrator ruled in favor of Colorado by accepting Colorado’s proposed damage measurement, rejecting Nebraska’s proposed changes to the Compact Accounting Procedures and determining that Kansas had failed to prove the amount of its proposed damage award and was limited to nominal damages of $10,000 for Nebraska’s overuse of Republican River water.

  • Assisted the State Engineer’s Office in a continuing series of public meetings to draft and achieve consensus on Rules in Water Division No. 3 to protect senior surface water rights and Colorado’s compact obligation while reducing groundwater withdrawals as little as possible.

  • Successfully represented the State of Colorado in U.S. Supreme Court litigation that approved the Special Master’s Fifth and Final Report and limited Kansas’ recovery for expert witness attendance fees against Colorado to $40 per day under 28 U.S.C §

    • 1821.

      Kansas v. Colorado, 129 S.Ct. 1294

    • (2009)

      . The 2009 Supreme Court decision accepted Colorado’s arguments as to the statutory limit of expert witness fee awards in cases of original jurisdiction and effectively ended the Kansas v. Colorado litigation which began in 1985.

  • Successfully defended an award of costs to the State Engineer in a rulemaking case, establishing the right of the State Engineer to such an award.

  • Promulgated Rules addressing the effect of increased irrigation efficiencies on the State’s ability to meet its compact obligations under the Arkansas River Compact.

  • Represented the State Engineer and defended his decision to approve Subdistrict No. 1 in Water Division 3 in a 10-day trial.

  • Protected the State’s interests in litigation and legislation regarding the Colorado River Compact and the Upper Colorado River Compact.

  • Participated in the Aspinall Unit reoperations Endangered Species Act review and National Environmental Policy Act processes on behalf of the State.

Water Resources and Conservation

In 2009, attorneys:

  • Assisted the State Engineer’s Office in drafting legislation to assist with administration of over 40,000 oil and gas wells. Represented staff of the State Engineer’s Office in a three-week hearing to adopt rules governing oil and gas well administration.

  • Represented the State Engineer in hundreds of water rights proceedings in Colorado’s water courts, including several appeals to the Colorado Supreme Court.


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