County of Butte v. Dep't of Water ResourcesAnnotate this Case
In this lawsuit challenging the sufficiency of an environmental impact report (EIR) prepared by California's Department of Water Resources (DWR) the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeal finding that the claims brought by Butte and Plumas Counties under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Cal. Pub. Res. Code 21000 et seq., were preempted, holding that the court of appeal erred in part.
The Counties brought a challenge to the environmental sufficiency of a settlement DWR prepared as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proceedings, 16 U.S.C. 817(1), and to the sufficiency of the EIR more generally. The court of appeals found that the action was preempted by the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791a et seq. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the Counties' claims were preempted to the extent they attempted to unwind the terms of a settlement agreement reached through a federal process and sought to enjoin DWR from operating certain facilities; but (2) the court of appeals erred in finding the Counties' CEQA claims entirely preempted.