Rule That Gutted State Authority To Protect Rivers Below Dams Overturned!
By: Evan Stafford
Late in the evening on Thursday, October 21, a coalition of advocates, including American Whitewater won a significant victory for clean water when a federal district court vacated a Clean Water Act rule put in place by the previous administration. Today’s order from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California restores state and Tribal authority to ensure federally permitted activities, including hydroelectric dams, affecting rivers and lakes comply fully with state and tribal laws protecting clean water. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives states the authority to condition hydropower projects licenses on their ability to protect the clean water in the rivers below them, including through restored instream flows, and the vacated rule had undermined that authority. In Washington state and California in particular, the 401 regulations are what have allowed American Whitewater to restore the flows below dams that provide whitewater opportunities and ecological restoration to streams below federally licensed hydropower projects.
Read the press release here from the Western Environental Law Center, the group who represented our colation in our challenge to the rule.