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NW Fishletter #388, Dec. 3, 2018

[7] Idaho Power, EPA Seek To Resolve Water Temperature Issue

Idaho Power and the EPA have asked a federal court to delay all proceedings in Idaho Power Company v. United States Environmental Protection Agency et al. to provide time for the agency to "take certain steps toward resolving the issues in this litigation."

The company claims EPA failed to either approve or disapprove a water temperature standard in a section of the Snake River that was submitted by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

According to the lawsuit, the state asked the EPA in 2012 to change the water temperature standard below Hells Canyon Dam, as required under the Clean Water Act. The federal agency's failure to act has complicated Idaho Power's application for a new 50-year license to operate the three projects in the Hells Canyon Complex.

Idaho Power says the new standard, which would allow a 2.7-degree increase in maximum water temperature from Oct. 23 to Nov. 7 is within Clean Water Act standards and fully protects Snake River fall Chinook.

According to the joint request, EPA has not responded to Idaho Power's complaint, and after further court filings, the agency's answer is due by Nov. 12. The court also issued other deadlines in the case.

The joint filing notes that discussions between Idaho Power and EPA since the complaint was filed about expected EPA actions "may moot the issues in this litigation."

It says that EPA is consulting with other federal agencies, and anticipates that a biological evaluation will continue throughout the winter, and expects to either take action on the water quality standard submitted by the Idaho DEQ, or submit a relevant standard by March 1, 2019.

If EPA has not taken action by March 11, 2019, the parties agree the stay should end, and the agency will respond to Idaho Power's complaint by March 30, 2019, the filing says.

If EPA requests formal consultation with other agencies, both parties will seek a joint motion to continue the stay. -K.C. Mehaffey

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Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
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