Description: Challenge to an instream flow rule for the Spokane River, which petitioners alleged was experiencing a "low flow trend" due to climate change and other factors.
Center for Environmental Law & Policy v. Department of Ecology
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/20/2019 Opinion and Order Download Orders issued granting motion for reconsideration and amending opinion holding rule invalid. The Washington Court of Appeals held that the instream flow rule was not consistent with the Water Resources Act of 1971, which the court said "does not allow Ecology to establish minimum instream flows for the narrow purpose of protecting only one instream value chosen by Ecology" (in this case, preservation of fish). The appellate court said Ecology must "meaningfully consider a range of instream values and seek to preserve them to the fullest extent possible," even though the court acknowledged it would be nearly impossible to appropriate water in a way that preserved all values. The appellate court rejected claims based on the public trust doctrine and the adequacy of the Department of Ecology's rulemaking file.
Center for Environmental Law & Policy v. State of Washington
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/30/2017 Order Download Petition denied. 05/22/2017 Response Download Response filed by Department of Ecology in response to petitioners' opening brief. 05/08/2017 Brief Download Amended opening brief filed by petitioners. 05/27/2016 Petition Download Petition filed for declaratory judgment and judicial review of agency action and an administrative appeal. Environmental groups challenged a Washington Department of Ecology instream flow rule for the Spokane River, asserting, among other things, that the Department had improperly failed to take climate change into account. The groups alleged that climate change was one factor contributing to low flow conditions in the river.