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E-M:/ Fwd: [Fwd: Fwd: News: Alabama dam creates national court test of theClean Wa...



Good morning, everyone.  I'm relatively new to enviro-mich (why, I'm not sure, I think I was here years ago, and for some unknown reason lost touch) so if this particular case has already been discussed, I suppose one needn't review now.  Because of its potential national import as regards the CWA and its citizen suit provisions, I thought I would post here.

Thanks,
Deborah Niehuus


Guys n Gal,

How bout that Clean Water Act?!

Michael


  • Subject: Fwd: News: Alabama dam creates national court test of theClean Water Act]
  • From: Felix E Smith <febesmith1@juno.com>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 15:53:32 -0800
Bob:

FYI.  
--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Leo Winternitz <lwinternitz@capital.sacto.org>
To: Ronald Stork <rstork@friendsoftheriver.org>,
         Clyde Macdonald <clyde.macdonald@asm.ca.gov>,
         Jonas Minton <jminton@water.ca.gov>,
         Felix Smith <febesmith1@juno.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 13:41:38 -0800
Subject: [Fwd: Fwd: News: Alabama dam creates national court test of
theClean Water Act]
Message-ID: <3DDD5311.C1F8E7D6@sacto.org>

For your information. - Leo


  • Subject: Fwd: News: Alabama dam creates national court test of theClean Water Act
  • From: "Roderick Hall" <RHALL@mp.usbr.gov>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 10:31:55 -0800
fyi


  • Subject: News: Alabama dam creates national court test of the Clean Water Act
  • From: RMS listserve <rmslist@river-management.org>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 09:48:29 -0600
  • In-Reply-To: <C38434C99676D41199110090273CF055013799B8@snake>
  • User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.02.2022
Title: News: Alabama dam creates national court test of the Clean Water  Act

----------
From: Eric Eckl <eeckl@amrivers.org>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 15:09:36 -0500
To: "'rmslist@river-management.org'" <rmslist@river-management.org>
Subject: News: Alabama dam creates national court test of the Clean Water  Act


Alabama Rivers Alliance * American Rivers * Lake Watch of Lake Martin

For Immediate Release                                                                          
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2002


Contact:                                                                                                      
Andrew Fahlund, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550 ext. 3022

Eric Eckl, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550 ext. 3023
Brad McLane, Alabama Rivers Alliance, (205) 529-5326
Dick Bronson, Lake Watch of Lake Martin, (256) 825-9353

Alabama dam creates national court test of the Clean Water Act

Plaintiff, defendant, and amicus briefs available by calling (202) 347-7550

(Washington, DC) The future of hundreds of rivers is at stake in a federal courtroom tomorrow, with states and environmental groups squaring off against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the hydroelectric industry's lawyers and lobbyists. Both sides will present oral arguments in a lawsuit over the environmental regulation of hydropower dams - and FERC is trying to use the case to strip states and citizens of their Clean Water Act rights and powers.

Three judges will rule whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can allow Alabama Power to modify Martin Dam without first acquiring a water quality permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The petitioners want to compel the federal regulators to provide the state an opportunity to review consequences for the Tallapoosa River before the new turbines are installed.

FERC, however, has gone considerably further -- asking the court to rule that the Clean Water Act does not apply to hydropower dams at all. Despite dim prospects for this argument prevailing, Alabama Power Company and the industry's DC lobbyists have weighed in with amicus briefs supporting the federal regulators' novel theory.    

"The same industry lobbyists that piously tout the benefits of 'clean hydropower' have not hesitated to pile on to this long shot effort to exempt their dams from the Clean Water Act," said Andrew Fahlund, senior director for dams at American Rivers. "It's not so much that we're afraid they'll win, it's that we can't believe they even asked."

Although the public does not generally equate hydroelectric turbines with industrial effluent pipes, hydropower dams can have profound impacts on downstream water quality and there is a substantial body of law explicitly regulating hydropower dams under the Clean Water Act. Dams can deplete dissolved oxygen in the water, suffocating fish and other species, or increase dissolved nitrogen in the water, which poisons aquatic life. Dams can discharge unnaturally cold or warm water, and scour downstream habitat with sudden surges released to meet peak demands.

"Alabama Power Company spends huge amounts on public relations efforts to convince consumers that they are good to the environment," said Brad McLane with the Alabama Rivers Alliance. "It's disturbing that they will go to such lengths to duck state oversight and avoid paying modest amounts of money for modern technology to protect the environment."

       
Under current law, state governments will have the opportunity to improve water quality in 130 rivers over the next ten years, as utilities seek new licenses for some 400 dams. Should FERC and its industry allies prevail on procedural grounds, state authority in these procedures will be dramatically eroded. Should the court accept FERC's argument that the Clean Water Act does not apply, conservationists expect utilities to begin petitioning FERC to amend their licenses to relax clean water requirements.

21 states and territories have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the conservation organizations, writing "If accepted by the court, this proposal by FERC could eviscerate state authority to protect state streams, rivers, and lakes from the far-reaching, long term, and dramatic impacts of hydroelectric facilities."

The state of Alabama originally signed on to the amicus brief, but has since dropped off -- under pressure from Alabama Power, conservation groups believe.

"We have a right to expect state officials to protect our heritage and stick up for our interests against encroachment from powerful industries and the federal agencies that look out for them," said Dick Bronson with Lake Watch of Lake Martin.

###

***
Eric Eckl
Director of Media Affairs
American Rivers
1025 Vermont Avenue
Suite 720
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-7550 ext. 3023
Cell: (202) 486-7877
FAX: (202) 347-9240
E-mail: eeckl@amrivers.org
http://www.americanrivers.org

***
Eric Eckl
Director of Media Affairs
American Rivers
1025 Vermont Avenue
Suite 720
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-7550 ext. 3023
Cell: (202) 486-7877
FAX: (202) 347-9240
E-mail: eeckl@amrivers.org
http://www.americanrivers.org