Saturday, June 09, 2018

Idaho utility sues Environmental Protection Agency over dams requirement that could cost customers up to $100 million

An Idaho utility has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contending the agency failed to act on a request by the state of Idaho to modify water temperature standards below a hydroelectric project where federally protected fall chinook salmon reproduce. The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Idaho Power Co. in U.S. District Court seeks to force the agency to act on a 2012 request by Idaho allowing warmer water temperatures in the Snake River below the Hells Canyon Complex on the Idaho-Oregon border. Snake River fall chinook were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the 1990s. A recovery plan released late last year by federal agencies identified the Snake River below the dams as the best spot for boosting the number of naturally reproducing spawning fish for the cold-water species. Hells Canyon is a mile-deep canyon carved by the Snake River, much of it popular for recreation but inaccessible by road. The three-dam Hells Canyon Complex built from the late 1950s through the 1960s partially tamed the river. Idaho Power in the lawsuit said the EPA is violating environmental and administrative laws. “EPA’s failure to take action is an intentional filibustering tactic designed to effectively deny approval,” the company said. Idaho Power cites studies by scientists with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries that concluded changing the water temperature standards would not harm salmon. But the change could reduce the cost of electricity, the company said, saving customers up to $100 million over 50 years...MORE

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