"Financial Crisis" delays congressional action on Indian water rights settlements
 By Patricia Chambers
 The Taos News
, October 2, 2008

  The intrusion of the financial crisis that rattled Wall Street and the Congress during the past several weeks has delayed Congressional action on long­awaited approval of funding for New Mexico’s three Indian water settlements. The bill had cleared the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Sept. 23.

  The legislation would provide funding for the infrastructure needed to distribute water rights defined in a 2006 settlement in three lawsuits brought about 40 years ago: Navajo, Abeyta and Aamodt.

  The Abeyta settlement involves Taos Pueblo water rights.

  The Bush administration has opposed the funding for the three projects — which will amount to about $1 billion — and demanded higher amounts from state and local funding matches, Udall said.

  “They apply criteria that has never been applied in the past, but they won’t be in power much longer,” he added.

  Because of the financial crisis, Congress is likely to run out of time to push the water settlement funding through to a vote by the Senate and the House before the end of the current legislative session, Udall said.

  A “lame duck” session could be held after the election, but because of the White House opposition, Udall believes it is unlikely that the Indian Water Settlement funding will be taken up by Congress until the new session begins in January.