Sen. James Inhofe is taking strong action to defend the quality of boating and swimming at the lake where he has a vacation home, even at the cost of flooding in a nearby community. The Oklahoma Republican has introduced an amendment to block the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from exercising full oversight over the flooding potential of a dam on Grand Lake in the northeastern part of the state.
Local Native American tribes and officials in the upstream, high-poverty town of Miami say that high water levels on the lake have contributed—along with climate change—to repeated floods as water backs up upstream from the dam. As in, two dozen floods in less than 30 years, with 150 homes torn down and more abandoned as a result. This spring’s floods forced the Eastern Shawnee tribe to evacuate, its ceremonial grounds covered in three feet of water. Inhofe and others who support the wealthy lake community’s rights to high-quality swimming deny that water levels there are related to upstream flooding. Just as Inhofe denies climate science.
Inhofe wants higher water levels at Grand Lake, where a company in his wife’s name holds $1 million in property, to “make the lake a better place for recreation and commerce.” The local yacht club owner agrees, but of course it’s Inhofe who has the ability to legislate to protect the wealthy people around the lake where he swims, flies airplanes, and denies climate change. (Inhofe denies climate change everywhere he goes.)
Inhofe’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act specifically limits the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority over exactly the kind of thing at issue here: lake levels and flood control. Along the way, it attacks Native American rights by saying that federal land “shall not be considered to be a reservation.” Totally disgusting, and totally business as usual for a Senate Republican.