CSPA and Friends of the River Defend Clean Water Act and CEQA

CSPA and Friends of the River (FOR) have filed an amicus brief arguing that the procedures of state law are not preempted by federal law in California’s application of the federal Clean Water Act.  The brief argues in favor of the state’s procedures for issuing a water quality certification for FERC hydropower licensing, including the requirement that the state apply the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.

FOR and CSPA filed the brief on October 19, 2016 with the State Court of Appeals, Third Appellate District, in support of a position against federal preemption taken by Butte and Plumas counties in their ongoing litigation against the Department of Water Resources.

For most folks, this likely seems way “inside baseball.”  For those of us in the trenches of hydropower relicensing, an adverse ruling would mean that the State Water Board’s ability to check to power of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could be severely diminished or even eliminated.   Weakening the authority of the State Water Board in these matters is something that the hydropower industry (including PG&E) has been aggressively pushing through federal legislation for well over a year: it’s that important.

The brief was authored by FOR’s Senior Counsel Bob Wright, FOR’s legal intern Brittany Iles, FOR’s Senior Policy Staff Ron Stork, and CSPA’s FERC Projects Director Chris Shutes.  CSPA is grateful to FOR for its excellent legal work and for Mr. Wright’s representation of CSPA in this matter.


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