National Wildlife Federation v. FERC

Court cases

912 F.2d 1471 (D.C. Cir. 1990)

Issue 1. Did FERC’s failure to consider the environmental impacts of Phase II of the project violate § 10(a)(1) of the Federal Power Act (FPA)?
Holding. The FPA does not require FERC staff to delve into the potential impacts of a project that is not before the Commission.

Issue 2. Did FERC’s failure to consider the environmental impacts of Phase II of the project violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or its implementing regulations?
Holding. NEPA does not require FERC to consider the future harms, benefits, and cumulative impacts of a proposal not currently before it.

Issue 3. Did FERC have the authority to reject or modify agency recommendations submitted under § 10(j) of the FPA?
Holding. While FERC must address each § 10(j) recommendation, it has the discretion to decide how to incorporate or reject a recommendation.

Issue 4. May FERC consider a project’s water supply benefits in deciding whether to issue a license even though water supply is not mentioned expressly in FPA § 4(e)?
Holding. FERC may consider a proposed project’s water supply benefits in deciding
whether to issue a license.

Issue 5. Was the applicant required to obtain a water quality certification from Oklahoma?
Holding. The applicant is only required to seek certification from the state where the discharge originates; for a dam, where the flow of water would be blocked and the water would be backed up, not a point upstream affected by the blockage downstream.

Issue 6. Did FERC’s failure to consider alternatives to the hydropower and water supply portions of the project constitute a violation of NEPA?
Holding. NEPA does not require FERC to consider every conceivable alternative in its EIS; rather, it requires agencies to consider all reasonable alternatives to proposed actions.

Issue 7. Did FERC improperly rely upon data prepared by a firm that held interests in real estate within the project area?
Holding. Mere speculation that data are unreliable because of the interests of the proponents of the evidence is insufficient to undermine FERC’s independent determination of reliability.

Contributed by:

Hydropower Reform Coalition

 

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Court cases

Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill

Issue 1. Given the presence of an endangered species that would be destroyed by completion of a hydropower project, would completion of the project violate the ESA?

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