Description: Challenge to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s December 2016 plan for managing the Glen Canyon Dam for failing to consider climate change impacts.
Save the Colorado v. U.S. Department of the Interior
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/04/2021 Order Download Motion to compel completion of the record denied without prejudice. Arizona Federal Court Denied Motion to Add Documents to Record in Challenge to Long-Term Plan for Glen Canyon Dam. The federal district court for the District of Arizona denied plaintiffs’ motion to complete the record in their challenge to the Glen Canyon Dam Long-Term Experimental Management Plan, a 20-year plan for releases from the dam that the plaintiffs alleged did not consider climate change impacts. The court found that the Department of the Interior properly excluded deliberative documents from the record. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that the Interior Department should have included articles on climate change impacts on future Colorado River basin water supplies that were referenced in two foundational studies of the Colorado River basin that were in the record. The court concluded that such underlying documents did not belong in the record and further found that the plaintiffs did not meet its burden of demonstrating that a Department of the Interior subordinate relied on the referenced materials. 04/23/2020 Order Download Motions to intervene granted. States, Electricity Providers Allowed to Intervene in Case Concerning Management of Glen Canyon Dam. In a case seeking greater consideration of climate change impacts in the management of the Glen Canyon Dam, the federal district court for the District of Arizona determined that six states as well as an association of not-for profit entities, including municipalities, that provide electricity must be permitted to intervene as defendants. With respect to the states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming), the court noted that the disposition of the case could impede their hydropower and water allocation interests and that the states’ interests overlapped with but were “more parochial” than the federal defendants. With respect to the association, the court noted that many of its members had contracts for hydropower from the Glen Canyon Dam or from downstream dams and that the case could affect dams other than those that concerned a similar association that had already intervened. 10/01/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Conservation Groups Alleged Interior Department Failed to Consider Climate Change in Review of Management Plan for Glen Canyon Dam. Three conservation groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arizona asserting that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s December 2016 plan for managing the Glen Canyon Dam violated NEPA due to the Department’s “illegal and willful omission of Colorado River climate change impact projections from the required environmental impacts analysis.” The plaintiffs said the Department failed to analyze the environmental consequences of the proposed action on the affected environment, including the cumulative and indirect impacts caused by climate change; improperly drafted the project’s purpose and need statement to exclude climate change adaption; failed to consider a reasonable range of alternatives, including numerous reasonable alternatives that would adapt the Dam’s operations to climate change impacts; and failed to explain the relationship between relevant land use policies, controls, and guidance documents in regard to the examined alternatives and rejected alternatives and climate change impacts. The plaintiffs also contended that even if the 2016 environmental impact statement was adequate at that time, a supplemental EIS was required because of recently published scientific research on climate change impacts on the Colorado River.