The City of Post Falls and the Hayden Area Sewer Board followed through on their promise to file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the legitimacy of the 12-year effort to establish a cleanup plan for the Spokane River. The City of Coeur d’Alene just decided it will be joining in as well.
The Idaho polluters’ lawsuit is drawing high-powered opposition. The U.S. EPA and Washington’s Department of Ecology will certainly defend the cleanup plan, but Spokane County has also lawyered up and can be expected to vigorously defend their interests. Other big guns like Avista and Inland Paper are likely to send lawyers as well.
In a previously-scheduled, get-to-know-you meeting with environmental groups in Spokane yesterday, relatively new Washington Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant and regional Ecology director Grant Pfeiffer reiterated their support for the TMDL plan, and said that they would be defending it in court. Pfeiffer indicated that after 12 years of study and negotiation, the foundation for the TMDL has largely solidified, and that he was confident that it would hold up under legal scrutiny.
KEA has obtained a copy of the 53-page Post Falls complaint and we are currently reviewing our own legal options. But the Idaho dischargers have picked a legal battle that will be very expensive to fight and very difficult to win. And, as we’ve said before, no matter the outcome of this legal tussle, the Idaho polluters have very expensive upgrades to make to their pollution control equipment. Our prediction is that, win or lose, all the spending on lawyers now will not make a dime’s difference later.