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Siskiyou water users suit alleges CEQA violations with Klamath agreements
Sacramento, Calif. —In the past year, parties involved in the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement had been threatened with being sued for their participation in the agreements, which lay out a plan for possible dam removal and restoration activities.
In a Sacramento court in August, the Siskiyou County Water Users Association (SCWUA) filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against a number of the parties in the Superior Court of California in Sacramento County, alleging that by engaging in the two agreements, the parties have violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The petition, written on behalf of the SCWUA by the firm Minasian, Spruance, Meith, Soares and Sexton, alleges that the act of signing the KBRA and KHSA constituted a “project” under CEQA guidelines, requiring environmental review before the commitment of any resources.
The brief lists numerous agency actions that are believed to constitute a commitment of public funds and resources, including the agreement to accept lands from PacifiCorp after dam removal, the implementation of terms of a fisheries restoration plan under the KBRA and the potential for “take” of listed species.
It is noted in the brief that under the agreements, legislation is required that would state that the execution of the agreements is not a project under CEQA.
It is also alleged in the brief that the California Department of Fish and Game is not the proper entity to act as the lead CEQA agency, but rather that that role should be filled by the State Water Resources Control Board.
The brief asks that the court issue a permanent injunction enjoining any further action with respect to the agreements, as well as a declaration that approval of the agreements violated CEQA and are therefore void.
According to the brief, the SCWUA also asks that a writ of mandate be issued ordering the parties to set aside and void their approval of the agreements until CEQA compliance is achieved, and prohibiting any further actions under the agreements until those compliance actions are completed.
The parties to the agreements submitted a brief in October stating the intent to submit a demurrer, or dismissal request, by today, with the hearing anticipated in January.
– David Smith can be reached at email@example.com
Page Updated: Wednesday December 22, 2010 02:39 AM Pacific
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