New Mexico – The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has thrown out a district judge's determination that the federal government has the authority to take irrigation water in the Rio Grande for the endangered silvery minnow.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King calls Wednesday's decision "essentially a victory for state's rights" but says the ruling will preserve habitat for the silvery minnow.
U.S. District Judge James A. Parker issued his ruling in 2005, saying the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation must consider using water intended for New Mexico farmers to protect the minnow.
Environmental groups argued that the Bureau of Reclamation had discretion to reallocate water from agricultural and municipal users to maintain stream flows for the minnow, but that the agency failed to weigh that discretion in consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.