Voices of the Wetlands v. CA State Water Resources Control Bd., et al.
Plaintiff, an environmental organization, filed this administrative mandamus action to challenge the issuance of a federally required permit authorizing the Moss Landing Powerplant (MLPP) to draw cooling water from the adjacent Moss Landing Harbor and Elkhorn Slough. This case presented issues concerning the technological and environmental standards, and the procedures for administrative and judicial review, that apply when a thermal powerplant, while pursuing the issuance or renewal of a cooling water intake permit from a regional board, also sought necessary approval from the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission), of a plan to add additional generating units to the plant, with related modifications to the cooling intake system. The court held that the superior court had jurisdiction to entertain the administrative mandamus petition here under review. The court also held that the trial court erred when it deferred a final judgment, ordered an interlocutory remand to the board for further "comprehensive" examination of that issue, then denied mandamus after determining that the additional evidence and analysis considered by the board on remand supported the board's reaffirmed findings. The court further held that recent Supreme Court authority confirmed that, when applying federal Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1326(b), standards for the issuance of this permit, the Regional Water Board properly utilized cost-benefit analysis. The court declined to address several other issues discussed by the parties. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.