Date of this Version
Cornhusker Economics, May 3, 2000, agecon.unl.edu/cornhuskereconomics
On July 1, 1997, the states of Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming, and the U.S. Department of the Interior signed the "Cooperative Agreement for Platte River Research and Other Efforts Relating to Endangered Species Habitat Along the Central Platte River, Nebraska," more commonly known as the Platte River Cooperative Agreement (PRCA). The PRCA is a proposed framework for cooperatively addressing Platte River endangered species issues. In order to implement the PRCA, the endangered species recovery program that the PRCA proposes must be reviewed and federally approved under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). One of NEPA's requirements is that federal agencies consider alternatives to the proposed action, in this case the PRCA endangered species recovery plan, including the no-action? alternative. Recent newspaper accounts describe the rather severe water rights implications of implementing the no-action alternative, i.e., the implications of not implementing the PRCA. This article briefly discusses the PRCA, the NEPA and ESA review processes, water rights implications of the ESA, and policy challenges facing Nebraska in implementing the PRCA.