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Nixon joins the ranks of downstream states battling upstream counterparts over Missouri River

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 21, 2009 - Gov. Jay Nixon is joining the bipartisan parade of Missouri politicians who are urging U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar "to reject the proposed diversion of water from the Missouri River basin into the Red River Valley," as sought by the upriver states of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Nixon announced today that he has sent a letter to Salazar stipulating his objections, which generally are in line with those voiced several weeks ago by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in a similar letter.

Nixon noted in his missive that, as attorney general, he had long objected to the diversion plan. And he warned Salazar of possible legal action.

“For my entire career, I have opposed upstream intervention with the Missouri River which puts in jeopardy the use and enjoyment of that great river by Missourians,” Nixon said. “That’s why I have asked the Secretary of the Interior to reject the diversion plan recommended by the Bureau of Reclamation and adopt an option which is less costly and which does not put Missouri at an environmental disadvantage.”

Nixon and McCaskill are battling the recommendation of the federal Bureau of Reclamation that the Missouri River diversion project go through, at a cost of $660 million.

The governor and his down-stream allies are calling for federal officials to instead go with an alternative plan that's $200 million cheaper, and would use water already within the Red River Valley basin.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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