Escondido Mutual Water Company v. La Jolla Band of Mission Indians, No. 82-2056

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWHITE
Citation80 L.Ed.2d 753,466 U.S. 765,104 S.Ct. 2105
PartiesESCONDIDO MUTUAL WATER COMPANY, et al., Petitioners v. LA JOLLA BAND OF MISSION INDIANS et al
Decision Date15 May 1984
Docket NumberNo. 82-2056

466 U.S. 765
104 S.Ct. 2105
80 L.Ed.2d 753
ESCONDIDO MUTUAL WATER COMPANY, et al., Petitioners

v.

LA JOLLA BAND OF MISSION INDIANS et al.

No. 82-2056.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued March 26, 1984.
Decided May 15, 1984.
Rehearing Denied June 25, 1984.
Syllabus

Section 4(e) of the Federal Power Act (FPA) authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) to issue licenses for the construction, operation, and maintenance of hydroelectric project works located on the public lands and reservations of the United States, including lands held in trust for Indians. The section contains a proviso that such licenses shall be issued "within any reservation" only after a finding by the Commission that the license will not interfere or be inconsistent with the purpose for which the reservation was created or acquired, and "shall be subject to and contain such conditions as the Secretary of the department under whose supervision such reservation falls shall deem necessary for the adequate protection and utilization of such reservations." Section 8 of the Mission Indian Relief Act of 1891 (MIRA), pursuant to which six reservations were established for respondent Indian Bands (respondents), provides that any United States citizen, firm, or corporation may contract with the Bands for the right to construct a flume, ditch, canal, pipe, or other appliances for the conveyance of water over, across, or through their reservations, which contract shall not be valid unless approved by the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) under such conditions as he may see fit to impose. When the original license covering hydroelectric facilities located on or near the six reservations, including a canal that crosses respondent La Jolla, Rincon, and San Pasqual Bands' reservations, was about to expire, petitioner Escondido Mutual Water Co. (Mutual) and petitioner city of Escondido filed an application with the Commission for a new license. Thereafter the Secretary requested that the Commission recommend federal takeover of the project, and respondents applied for a nonpower license. After hearings on the competing applications, an Administrative Law Judge concluded that the project was not subject to the Commission's licensing jurisdiction. The Commission reversed and granted a license to Mutual, Escondido, and petitioner Vista Irrigation District, which had been using the canal in question. The Court of Appeals in turn reversed the Commission, holding, contrary to the Commission, (1) that § 4(e) of the FPA required the Commission to accept without modification any license conditions recommended by the Secretary; (2) that the Commission was required to satisfy its § 4(e) obligations with respect to all six of the res-

Page 766

ervations and not just the three through which the canal passes; and (3) that § 8 of the MIRA required the licensees to obtain right-of-way permits from respondent La Jolla, Rincon, and San Pasqual Bands before using the license facilities located on their reservations.

Held:

1. The plain command § 4(e) of the FPA requires the Commission to accept without modification conditions that the Secretary deems necessary for the adequate protection and utilization of the reservations. Nothing in the legislative history or statutory scheme is inconsistent with this plain command. Pp. 772-779.

2. But the Commission must make its "no inconsistency or interference" findings and include the Secretary's conditions in the license only with respect to projects located "within" the geographical boundaries of a federal reservation. It is clear that Congress concluded that reservations were not entitled to the protection of § 4(e)'s proviso unless some of the licensed works were actually within the reservation. Thus, the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the Commission's § 4(e) obligation to accept the Secretary's conditions and to make such findings applied to the three reservations on which no licensed facilities were located. Pp. 780-784.

3. Section 8 of the MIRA does not require licensees to obtain respondents' consent before they operate licensed facilities located on reservation lands. While § 8 gave respondents authority to determine whether to grant rights-of-way for water projects, that authority did not include the power to override Congress' subsequent decision in enacting the FPA that all lands, including tribal land, could, upon compliance with the FPA, be utilized to facilitate licensed hydroelectric projects. Pp. 784-787.

692 F.2d 1223 (9th Cir.1982) and 701 F.2d 826 (9th Cir.1983), affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Paul D. Engstrand, San Diego, Cal., for petitioners.

Jerome M. Feit, Washington, D.C., for respondent Federal Energy Regulatory Com'n, urging reversal.

Elliott Schulder, Washington, D.C., for respondent Secretary of Interior.

Page 767

Robert S. Pelcyger, Boulder, Colo., for respondents Mission Indian Bands.

Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Section 4(e) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 41 Stat. 1066, as amended, 16 U.S.C. § 797(e), authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) 1 to issue licenses for the construction, operation and maintenance of hydroelectric project works located on the public lands and reservations of the United States, including lands held in trust for Indians. The conditions upon which such licenses may issue are contained in § 4(e) and other provisions of the FPA. The present case involves a dispute among the Commission, the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary), and several Bands of the Mission Indians over the role each is to play in determining what conditions an applicant must meet in order to obtain a license to utilize hydroelectric facilities located on or near six Mission Indian Reservations.

I

The San Luis Rey River originates near the Palomar Mountains in northern San Diego County, Cal. In its natural condition, it flows through the reservations of the La

Page 768

Jolla, Rincon, and Pala Bands of Mission Indians. The reservations of the Pauma, Yuima,2 and three-quarters of the reservation of the San Pasqual Bands of Mission Indians are within the river's watershed. These six Indian reservations were permanently established pursuant to the Mission Indian Relief Act of 1891 (MIRA), ch. 65, 26 Stat. 712.

Since 1895, petitioner Escondido Mutual Water Co. (Mutual) and its predecessor in interest have diverted water out of the San Luis Rey River for municipal uses in and around the cities of Vista and Escondido. The point of diversion is located within the La Jolla Reservation, upstream from the other reservations. Mutual conveys the water from the diversion point to Lake Wohlford, an artificial storage facility, by means of the Escondido canal, which crosses parts of the La Jolla, Rincon, and San Pasqual Reservations.3

In 1915, Mutual constructed the Bear Valley powerhouse downstream from Lake Wohlford. Neither Lake Wohlford nor the Bear Valley plant is located on a reservation. In 1916, Mutual completed construction of the Rincon powerhouse, which is located on the Rincon Reservation. Both of these powerhouses generate electricity by utilizing waters diverted from the river through the canal.

Following the enactment of the Federal Water Power Act of 1920, ch. 285, 41 Stat. 1063 (codified as Part I of the FPA,

Page 769

16 U.S.C. § 791a et seq.), Mutual applied to the Commission for a license covering its two hydroelectric facilities. In 1924, the Commission issued a 50-year license covering the Escondido diversion dam and canal, Lake Wohlford, and the Rincon and Bear Valley powerhouses.

The present dispute began when the 1924 license was about to expire. In 1971, Mutual and the city of Escondido filed an application with the Commission for a new license. In 1972, the Secretary requested that the Commission recommend federal takeover of the project after the original license expired.4 Later that year, the La Jolla, Rincon, and San Pasqual Bands, acting pursuant to § 15(b) of the FPA,5 applied for a nonpower license under the supervision of Interior, to take effect when the original license expired. The Pauma and Pala Bands eventually joined in this application.

After lengthy hearings on the competing applications,6 an Administrative Law Judge concluded that the project was not subject to the Commission's licensing jurisdiction because

Page 770

the power aspects of the project were insignificant in comparison to the project's primary purpose—conveying water for domestic and irrigation consumption. 6 FERC ¶ 63,008 (1979).7 The Commission, however, reversed that decision and granted a new 30-year license to Mutual, Escondido, and the Vista Irrigation District, which had been using the canal for some time to convey water pumped from Lake Henshaw, a lake located some nine miles above Mutual's diversion dam. 6 FERC ¶ 61,189 (1979).

In its licensing decision, the Commission made three rulings that are the focal point of this case. First, the Commission ruled that § 4(e) of the FPA did not require it to accept without modification conditions which the Secretary deemed necessary for the adequate protection and utilization of the reservations.8 Accordingly, despite the Secretary's insistence, the Commission refused to prohibit the licensees from interfering with the Bands' use of a specified quantity of water, id., at 61,415, and n. 146, or to require that water pumped from a particular groundwater basin 9 not be transported through the licensed facilities without the written consent of the five Bands, id., at 61,145, and n. 147. Other conditions proposed by the Secretary were similarly rejected or modified. See id., at 147-155. Second,

Page 771

although it imposed some conditions on the licensees in order to "preclude any possible interference or inconsistency of the power license . . . with the purpose for which the La Jolla, Rincon, and San...

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134 practice notes
  • Electric utilities (Federal Power Act): Hydroelectric licensing regulations,
    • United States
    • Federal Register November 17, 2005
    • November 17, 2005
    ...and upheld by the Federal courts, including the Supreme Court. See Escondido Mutual Water Co. v. La Jolla Band of Mission Indians, 466 U.S. 765 (1984); American Rivers v. FERC, 201 F.3d 1186 (9th Cir. 1999); Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. v. FERC, 78 F.3d 659 (D.C. Cir. 1996). After a license ha......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register November 17, 2005
    • November 17, 2005
    ...and upheld by the Federal courts, including the Supreme Court. See Escondido Mutual Water Co. v. La Jolla Band of Mission Indians, 466 U.S. 765 (1984); American Rivers v. FERC, 201 F.3d 1186 (9th Cir. 1999); Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. v. FERC, 78 F.3d 659 (D.C. Cir. 1996). After a license ha......
  • Monongahela Power Co. v. Marsh, Nos. 81-1201
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • January 13, 1987
    ...intent to guide us. See cases cited supra note 82. 84 Nor does the recent decision in Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 104 S.Ct. 2105, 80 L.Ed.2d 753 (1984), aid resolution of the dispute before us. An issue confronting the Court there was whether Sec. 8 of the Mi......
  • Pud No. 1 of Jefferson County v. Washington Dep't of Ecology, 921911
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 23, 1994
    ...petitioners disagree, they may pursue judicial remedies at that time. Cf. Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla Band of Mission Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 778, n. 20, 104 S.Ct. 2105, 2113, n. 20, 80 L.Ed.2d 753 (1984). In summary, we hold that the State may include minimum stream flow requiremen......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
126 cases
  • Monongahela Power Co. v. Marsh, Nos. 81-1201
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • January 13, 1987
    ...intent to guide us. See cases cited supra note 82. 84 Nor does the recent decision in Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 104 S.Ct. 2105, 80 L.Ed.2d 753 (1984), aid resolution of the dispute before us. An issue confronting the Court there was whether Sec. 8 of the Mi......
  • Pud No. 1 of Jefferson County v. Washington Dep't of Ecology, 921911
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 23, 1994
    ...petitioners disagree, they may pursue judicial remedies at that time. Cf. Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla Band of Mission Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 778, n. 20, 104 S.Ct. 2105, 2113, n. 20, 80 L.Ed.2d 753 (1984). In summary, we hold that the State may include minimum stream flow requiremen......
  • N.Y. State Electric & Gas Corp. v. Firstenergy Corp., Civil Action No. 3:03-CV-0438 (DEP)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of New York
    • July 11, 2011
    ...legislative intent. United States v. Kramer, 913 F. Supp. 848, 862 (D.N.J.1995) (citing Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 772, 104 S. Ct. 2105, 2110 (1984)). Focusing on the defendants' arguments relating to the reasonableness, necessity, and cost-effectiveness of ......
  • Jove Engineering, Inc. v. I.R.S., No. 94-6372
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 29, 1996
    ...that Congress expresses its purposes through the ordinary meaning of the words it uses." Escondido Mutual Water Co. v. La Jolla Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 772, 104 S.Ct. 2105, 2110, 80 L.Ed.2d 753 (1984); National Coal Ass'n v. Chater, 81 F.3d 1077, 1081-82 (11th Cir.1996) (Construing the plain......
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3 books & journal articles
  • Permits and state permit programs
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • July 23, 2017
    ...§ 401 certiication. [citations omitted] Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla, Rincon, San Pasqual, Pauma & Pala Band of Mission Indians , 466 U.S. 765 (1984)—a case which the Commission goes to great lengths to distinguish—is more on point. In Escondido , the Supreme Court was called upon t......
  • Hydropower
    • United States
    • Legal pathways to deep decarbonization in the United States Part V - Electricity Decarbonization
    • March 24, 2019
    ...and must incorporate them into the FERC license for the project. Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla Band of Mission Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 14 ELR 20592 (1984). 135. EPAct 2005 §241(c), 119 Stat. at 676 (adding a new §33 to the FPA, codiied at 16 U.S.C. §823d(a)(4), (b)(4)). 136. While the......
  • Deep Decarbonization and Hydropower
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 48-4, April 2018
    • April 1, 2018
    ...and must incorporate them into the FERC license for the project. Escondido Mut. Water Co. v. La Jolla Band of Mission Indians, 466 U.S. 765, 14 ELR 20592 (1984). 131. EPAct 2005 §241(c), 119 Stat. at 676 (adding a new §33 to the FPA, codiied at 16 U.S.C. §823d(a)(4), (b)(4)). Copyright © 20......

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