Willamette Law Online

Oregon Court of Appeals


Steele v. Water Resources Commission

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 02-15-2012
Case #: A144766
Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; & Wollheim, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/sites/Publications/A144766.pdf

Water Rights: For a petitioner to properly challenge an agency’s final order, petitioner must show that erroneous factual findings or erroneous interpretations of conclusions of law in the agency’s final order produced an improper result that is within the court’s authority to review.

Steele sought judicial review of a final order by the Water Resources Department that determined that a proposed hydroelectric project did not have “impacts that are cumulative with those of other existing or proposed hydroelectric projects in the same river basin” that would force a consolidated review. Although the Court of Appeals found that petition probably intended to challenge the Public Interest Order, which ultimately authorized a license for the project, Steele actually only filed a protest against the Cumulative Impacts Order. The Court admonished that it was not able to set aside a final order unless the erroneous findings affected the validity of the order. However, Steele made no showing how the mitigation program in question and its potentially erroneous findings might deprive the department’s challenged order of substantial evidentiary support. Affirmed.