Saturday, May 4, 2013

PUD No. 1 of Jefferson County v. Washington Department of Ecology case brief

PUD No. 1 of Jefferson County v. Washington Department of Ecology case brief
511 U.S. 700 (1994)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Petitioners, a city and a local utility district, desired to build a hydroelectric project on the Dosewallips River in Washington State. Respondent state environmental agency conditioned a permit for the project on the maintenance of specific minimum stream flows to protect salmon and steelhead runs. The Supreme Court of Washington upheld the agency's decision. Petitioners sought certiorari.

FACTS: Because a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license was required and because the project might result in discharges into the Dosewallips River, petitioners were required to obtain state certification of the project pursuant to § 401 (33 U.S.C.S. § 1341) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act (Act), 33 U.S.C.S. § 1251 et seq. The principal dispute was whether the minimum stream flow requirement that the state imposed on the hydroelectric project was a permissible condition of a § 401 certification under the Act. The Court concluded that it was, upholding the state supreme court's judgment. The Court held that a state may include minimum stream flow requirements in a § 401 certification insofar as necessary to enforce a designated use contained in a state water quality standard. In so doing, the Court rejected petitioners' assertion that the Act was only concerned with water quality and did not allow the regulation of water quantity. Indeed, there was recognition in the Act itself that reduced stream flow, or diminishment of water quantity, could constitute water pollution.

CONCLUSION: The Court affirmed the judgment of the state supreme court.

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