News Stories Jun. 14, 2018

Law360 – An Oregon federal judge ruled Monday that the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation must face claims in an environmental group’s lawsuit over alleged Clean Water Act violations at the Pelton Round Butte hydroelectric project that the tribe co-owns, saying the tribe must be joined to the suit and that its sovereign immunity is waived under the Act. The Tribes and Portland General Electric had both asked the court to dismiss the Deschutes River Alliance’s lawsuit alleging past and continuing CWA violations. The tribe, which had been participating as an amicus in the case, and PGE both contended that the tribe must be joined to the suit since its interests would be impacted by the litigation, but also argued that the tribe couldn’t be joined because of its sovereign immunity to suit and that the case must therefore be dismissed. While U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon agreed Monday that the tribe is a necessary party to the suit, he disagreed that it has sovereign immunity from the suit.

In its May 15th meeting, Warm Springs Tribal Council was represented by Chiefs Heath and Moses, Chairman Austin Greene., Ronald Suppah, Lee Tom and Brigette McConville. The Council met with Bonneville Power Administration representatives and tribal staff: Bobby Brunoe, Natural Resources general manager; Louie Pitt Jr., Governmental Affairs director; and John Ogan, tribal attorney. The items of discussion included: Tributary habitat. Strategic Planning Operation, Spill Surcharge. Fish Accords and Productive return on traditional First Foods. Also discussed were the Columbia River Treaty and a solar project. The Tribes asked for BPA’s support for a strong voice on behalf of the tribes up and down the Columbia River in an effort to make it more than a U.S. v. Canada negotiations, but to include the Tribes. BPA will coordinate with the Secretary-Treasurer to schedule the next government-to-government meeting tentatively set for October.

A recent confirmed case of Hantavirus, a disease spread by rodents, in a Deschutes County resident has prompted local health officials to remind residents to take precautions to prevent exposure to the virus in their homes, work places and recreational areas. Although rare in our region, there have been a total of 22 cases confirmed in Oregon since 1993. This latest confirmed case was fatal. Hantaviruses are usually carried by the deer mouse or white-footed mouse. There is no vaccine for hantavirus infection, so the key is prevention – Keep your home, workplace, cabin or campsite rodent-free. All rodent droppings are potentially harmful.