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Spring 1999-Fall 2012
April 25th, 2018. Article in Seven Days "Water Quality Rules Could Generate Trouble at Green River Reservoir." Read here.
Overview: Green River Reservoir Dam re-licensing process
The Friends of Green River Reservoir is an organization committed to preserving the Green River Reservoir and to protecting and enhancing its ecological habitat. These goals are fundamental to our mission.
As our members are aware, the FGRR Board is monitoring Morrisville’s Water and Light's (MWL) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Green River Reservoir Dam re-licensing process, a complex legal process involving multiple parties that began in 2010 and is now before the Vermont Environmental Court (EC), Absent a settlement among all parties and subsequent approval by the Environmental Court, a trial focusing on unresolved issues is scheduled to begin in early 2018. The Board has committed significant human and financial resources to review and respond to EC filings and court processes
In November 2016 in order to be an intervenor and stay abreast of developments, the Board hired Anthony Iarrapino, Esq. of Montpelier to represent us before the EC and our intervention request was approved. Thus, the Friends can now participate in all legal EC appeal processes, including receiving all court correspondence, participating in Discovery, filing motions, presenting witnesses and expert testimony, cross examination of witness, and participation in potential settlement negotiations.
The Board has not predetermined its position on specific contentious issues raised by appealing parties, but will be actively participating in the review of required supporting evidence. Consistent with our mission, our goal will be to support reasonable and sustainable practices that support the continued existence of the dam and advance reservoir preservation and ecological habitat protection and enhancement. We will keep updating information on our FGRR websitehttp://www.fgrrvt.org/.
March 24th, 2018. Update on the Green River Dam Relicensing Appeal. By board member Michael Wickenden
The Friends of Green River Reservoir Board (“the Board”) continues to closely monitor Morrisville Water and Light’s(MWL) appeal to the Vermont Superior Court, Environmental Division (“the Court”) of a water quality certification issued by Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). The water quality certificate is required by the Federal Energy Regulations Commission (FERC) and is used by FERC to establish the conditions for the renewal of a 30-year Green River Reservoir Dam license. FERC is the ultimate authority that regulates both the construction and operational phases of hydro-projects.
MWL's appeal raised over a dozen issues in regards to the certificate. Principally, MWL claims that ANR has not accurately applied Vermont's water quality standards. A consequence of ANR's alleged inaccuracy is their recommendation for a significant decrease in the amount and timing of water released that would be available to produce winter hydro-power. MWL states that if they have to abide by the conditions of ANR's water quality certification for Green River Reservoir, the profitability and utility of the dam will be compromised. If that is the case, MWL has publicly stated that they may consider asking FERC for permission to remove the dam and return the reservoir to its pre-reservoir natural condition. A FERC dam removal legal proceeding is typically an expensive, multiyear exercise that also requires Vermont ANR approval. Because the outcome of a proceeding of this nature is uncertain and would require sizable MWL legal, dam removal, and habitat restoration costs, MWL would exhaust all other alternatives before committing their ratepayers to fund that option.
The appeal trial date has been set for April 2 – 13, 2018.On April 2nd, the case will begin with a short discussion to set a date for a site visit. Hearings will begin on April 3rd and will be held in the Costello Courthouse on Main St. in Burlington. The parties will present their evidence in the following order: Morrisville Water and Light; American Whitewater/Vermont Paddlers Club; Vermont Natural Resources Council/Trout Unlimited; Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
Many issues raised in MWL original appeal have been the subject of recent court orders. For example, on June 13, 2017, the Court ruled that “state and federal water quality laws do not authorize consideration of economic or social factors.” Consequently, lost hydro-power production and the resultant decrease in MWL revenue as a result of decreased winter water level draw-downs is not a factor that the Court will consider when it evaluates MWL's appeal. What remains to be decided by the Court is whether ANR's water flow recommendations accurately result in achieving Vermont's water quality standards, or, as MWL and American Whitewater's and Vermont Paddlers Club's expert witnesses will testify, ANR's requirements limiting winter water draw-downs are overly restrictive. The Court's decision is expected by the fall of 2018.
The Friend's fundamental mission remains the preservation of Green River Reservoir's highest environmental standards consistent with the long-term preservation of the dam. To advance thatmission, the Board hired Anthony Iarrapino, Esq. to be the Friend's legal counsel and enable our participation in the Green River Dam Relicensing and Appeal. The Board periodically meets with counsel to review legal filings and plan strategy. In February 2017, members of the Board met with MWL Trustees and participated in a MWL sponsored public hearing at People's Academy. In addition, the Board reached out and met with Julie Moore, the Secretary of ANR; with VNRC’s Jon Groveman, Esq., Public Policy and Water Program Director,and B.T. Fitzgerald, Dam Project & Vermont Dam Task Force Coordinator; and with Christine Hallquist, former CEO of Vermont Electric Coop. Our discussions have centered around how we can collectively come together to reach a beneficial and reasonable solution. What we can confirm is that all parties share the long-term vision of a safe, functioning dam and reservoir that meets or exceeds state and federal water quality standards. What is still unclear is the appropriate application of those standards to the Green River Reservoir and how their application will affect the dam's future operations. Rest assured that the Board will remain active in keeping its membership informed and working with any and all interested parties to achieve a solution that preserves an environmentally sound reservoir.
Update October 2017
In terms of schedule, the principal parties are required to disclose the identity of their expert witnesses by November 1, 2017. Thereafter will follow another round of discovery specifically focusing on the opinions the experts will offer in Court. The trial is tentatively scheduled for March/April 2018.
Meanwhile, the parties continue to exchange discovery requests and responses of a highly technical nature The Agency of Natural Resources and Morrisville Water and Light are busy in the discovery process--an exchange of information whose purpose is to allow each party to test the strengths and weaknesses of the other's case. In September, Morrisville Water and Light was scheduled to conduct its own flow and aquatic biota studies downstream of the Green River Dam. The objective of these studies is ostensibly to challenge the scientific basis for ANR's position that healthy aquatic communities of fish and other biota require more protective in-stream flow regimes than those currently achieved by Morrisville Water and Light. The results of the study and other expert opinions on all sides will be explored in further discovery through the fall with trial in the case expected in spring 2018.
June 18th 2017, article in Vt. Digger, Judge:Recreation. profit not part of Green River dam equation. Read here
June 15th 2017, VPR article on Environmental Court Decision http://www.tinyurl.com/y7vtwzp
April 6th, 2017 Legal update here
2/9/2017 Hearing scheduled before the Public Service Board on Morrisville Water and Light's Integrated Resource Plan. Here
December 22nd, 2016, News and Citizen article
Local news, "Friend's Mobilizing to Save the Reservoir". Read the article here.
December 14th, 2016, VPR News
Friends of Green River Reservoir Memberships Up in Advance of Environmental Court Appeal. Read the full story here.
December 14th, 2016, UPDATE From FGRR Board of Directors, read here
November 2016 Green River Reservoir Relicensing Situation. Read here
September 20th, 2016 The Future of the Green River Reservoir. Read here