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NW Fishletter #371, July 3, 2017

[10] PGE and Deschutes River Alliance Parties Agree to Settlement Talks

Deschutes River Alliance and Portland General Electric agreed to settlement discussions in a case alleging Clean Water Act violations at the utility's Pelton Round Butte dam complex in central Oregon.

Talks were scheduled for June 15-16. The parties--which include the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, co-owner of the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric projects--agreed in May there was common ground forsettlement discussions.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon allowed PGE to appeal his March 27 ruling denying the utility's motion to dismiss the case PGE had argued unsuccessfully in Deschutes River Alliance v. Portland General Electric [16-01644] that the federal district court lacked jurisdiction because only FERC, not citizen lawsuits, can enforce the conditions of CWA certification.

The judge agreed with DRA that states that write water quality-related requirements have the authority to enforce the CWA.

In a joint May 24 filing, both plaintiff and defendant parties agreed to postpone further proceedings in the case while they attempt to negotiate a settlement.

The parties are also waiting to hear whether the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will grant permission for the appeal to proceed.

Even if that court agrees to hear the appeal, the parties have agreed to hold off further proceedings as long as the settlement discussions are "productive," the joint filing says.

DRA brought the original case Aug. 12, 2016, alleging a selective water withdrawal tower meant to aid migrating salmon and steelhead is warming the lower Deschutes River and harming the aquatic environment and the river's native fish populations.

The tower is a requirement of PGE's 2005 FERC license. -L. B.

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