Pacific Rivers filed a motion Feb. 12 seeking to intervene in Idaho Power's application with FERC to relicense the Hells Canyon Complex.

The filing is an "out-of-time," or late, request, but one Pacific Rivers says is warranted.

Idaho Power has asked FERC to deny the motion.

According to the motion, Pacific Rivers is a Portland-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and restore watershed ecosystems in the West. Its work has included advocacy on behalf of the Snake River, including recent litigation over water quality certification the state of Oregon issued for the complex's three dams.

The motion argues that, because FERC has not yet issued an order and Pacific Rivers accepts the current record, there will be no disruption to the proceedings, and it will not cause additional burden to any party. It also says no other party represents its interests.

Last summer, Pacific Rivers and Idaho Rivers United filed a lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in Multnomah County Court seeking judicial review of the certification needed for relicensing, saying it violated state requirements for fish passage and did not require a reasonable assurance water quality standards will be met. Idaho Power intervened, and is seeking to dismiss the case.

Pacific Rivers also submitted a comment to FERC on Idaho Power's offer of settlement for the Hells Canyon Complex, noting the water quality certification is subject to litigation against the State of Oregon, and that sovereign tribal nations with treaty-reserved rights and co-management authority were not part of the settlement agreement, and that conservation groups were also excluded from the negotiations.

Idaho Power says that Pacific Rivers does not have good cause for failing to intervene on time, that the late intervention would disrupt and delay proceedings, and that its interests are already represented by other intervenors, including state and federal agencies, Indian tribes and other environmental organizations.

FERC initially accepted Idaho Power’s application in December 2003, and gave parties until Feb. 2, 2004 to intervene. It allowed new motions to intervene based on its draft EIS in 2006.

K.C. Mehaffey covers fish issues for Clearing Up, and is editor of the NW Fishletter. She joined the NewsData writing team in February 2018. From lawsuits to scientific studies, she is enjoying the deep dive into the Columbia Basin's many fish topics.