Wild Fish Conservancy v. Jewell

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 09-11-2013
  • Case #: 10-35303
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Thomas for the Court; Circuit Judge Nguyen; Senior District Judge Dearie
  • Full Text Opinion

Section 8 of the Reclamation Act of 1902 "makes clear that Congress did not intend to permit private parties who lack water rights a private right of action to compel enforcement of state law against federal agencies."

The Wild Fish Conservancy ("Conservancy") brought an action under the Administrative Procedures Act challenging "the United States' diversion of water from Icicle Creek." The Conservancy alleged that water was being illegally diverted from Icicle Creek in violation of Washington state law. The Conservancy claimed that the hatchery currently receiving the diverted water "is subject to section 8 of the Reclamation Act of 1902, which requires that federal reclamation projects operate in compliance with state water law." The district court held that the Conservancy’s claims were untimely and granted United State’s summary judgment. On appeal, the Conservancy raised the following: (1) the United States was improperly diverting water and violating Washington state law; and (2) by not submitting fishway plans for approval and by failing to provide “a durable and efficient fishway,” the United States was violating Washington's fishway law. On the first claim, the Ninth Circuit held that the Conservancy lacked prudential standing because the language of section 8 "makes clear that Congress did not intend to permit private parties who lack water rights a private right of action to compel enforcement of state law against federal agencies." On the second claim, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the Conservancy's arguments, finding that "the relevant provisions of the fishway law [were] not incorporated into section 8 of the Reclamation Act," and alternatively, that the Conservancy's claim did not challenge a final agency action. DISMISSED.

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