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CITY TACOMA v. TAXPAYERS TACOMA ET AL.

decided: June 23, 1958.

CITY OF TACOMA
v.
TAXPAYERS OF TACOMA ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF WASHINGTON.

Warren, Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Burton, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Whittaker

Author: Whittaker

[ 357 U.S. Page 322]

 MR. JUSTICE WHITTAKER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is the latest episode in litigation beginning in 1948 which has been waged in five tribunals and has produced more than 125 printed pages of administrative and judicial opinions. It concerns the plan of the City of Tacoma, a municipal corporation in the State of Washington, to construct a power project on the Cowlitz River, a navigable water of the United States, in accordance with a

[ 357 U.S. Page 323]

     license issued by the Federal Power Commission under the Federal Power Act.*fn1 The question presented for decision here is whether under the facts of this case the City of Tacoma has acquired federal eminent domain power and capacity to take, upon the payment of just compensation, a fish hatchery owned and operated by the State of Washington, by virtue of the license issued to the City under the Federal Power Act and more particularly § 21 thereof.*fn2 The project cannot be built without taking the hatchery because it necessarily must be inundated by a reservoir that will be created by one of the project's dams.

The question has arisen under the following circumstances and proceedings. Having earlier filed its declaration of intention to construct the project,*fn3 the City of Tacoma, a "municipality"*fn4 in the State of Washington, on December 28, 1948, filed with the Commission, under

[ 357 U.S. Page 324]

     § 4 (e) of the Federal Power Act,*fn5 an application*fn6 for a federal license to construct a power project, including two dams (known as Mossyrock and Mayfield) and appurtenant facilities, on the Cowlitz River.*fn7

The Mossyrock development was proposed to be located at Mile 65 and to consist of a concrete dam across the Cowlitz rising 510 feet above bedrock (creating a reservoir covering about 10,000 acres extending 21 miles upstream) and an integral powerhouse containing, initially, three generators each of 75,000-kilowatt capacity and provisions for a fourth generator of like capacity.

[ 357 U.S. Page 325]

     The Mayfield development was proposed to be located at Mile 52 and to consist of a concrete dam across the Cowlitz rising 240 feet above bedrock (creating a reservoir covering about 2,200 acres extending 13.5 miles upstream to the tailwaters of the Mossyrock Dam, which would inundate the State's fish hatchery) and an integral powerhouse containing, initially, three generators each of 40,000-kilowatt capacity and provisions for a fourth generator of like capacity. The project -- estimated to cost $146,000,000, including $9,465,000 for devices to enable anadromous fish to pass to spawning grounds upstream and their young to pass to the sea, and for new fish hatcheries -- would thus have initial capacity to produce 345,000 kilowatts or 474,000 horsepower, and eventually 460,000 kilowatts or 632,000 horsepower, of electrical energy.

The Commission ordered a public hearing to determine whether the license should issue, and gave notice of the hearing to the Governor of the State of Washington. In response, the Attorney General of the State filed an intervening petition, in the names of the State's Directors of Fisheries and of Game, alleging in substance that the State's Departments of Fisheries and of Game are subdivisions of the sovereign State, and that the respective Directors are charged with the duty of enforcing its laws concerning the conservation of fish and game; that the dams and fish-handling facilities proposed by the City would destroy fishery resources of the State; that construction of proposed dams would violate Wash. Rev. Code 90.28.060, requiring the State's permission to construct any dam for the storage of 10 acre-feet or more of water, and Wash. Rev. Code 75.20.010, prohibiting the construction of any dam higher than 25 feet across any river tributary to the Columbia, downstream from the McNary Dam, within the migratory range of anadromous fish; and "that the reservoirs which would be created by the proposed

[ 357 U.S. Page 326]

     dams would inundate a valuable and irreplaceable fish hatchery owned by the State of Washington, as well as . . . productive spawning areas." The City's answer admitted that the State's fish hatchery would be inundated by the Mayfield Reservoir. The State's Attorney General also appointed a Special Assistant Attorney General to represent all persons of the State whose views were in conflict with the State's official position.

[ 357 U.S. Page 327]

     Upon the issues thus framed a hearing, consuming 24 days, was conducted by a Commission examiner, throughout which the Attorney General of the State, by his designated assistant, actively participated in opposition to the application, and the Special Assistant Attorney General, appointed for the purpose stated, also participated in the proceedings before the Commission. Thereafter the Commission, on November 28, 1951, rendered its opinion,*fn8 findings,*fn9 and order granting the license.*fn10 Re City of Page 327} Tacoma, 92 P. U. R. (N. S.) 79. The State petitioned for a rehearing which was denied.

Pursuant to § 313 of the Act, 16 U. S. C. § 825 l, the State, in its proper name and also on behalf of its Directors

[ 357 U.S. Page 328]

     of Fisheries and of Game, petitioned for review of the Commission's order by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The City intervened. The State there challenged the Commission's authority to issue the license principally upon the grounds that the City had not complied with applicable state laws nor obtained state permits and approvals required by state statutes;*fn11 that "Tacoma, as a creature of the State of Washington, cannot act in opposition to the policy of the State or in derogation of its laws" (emphasis added); and that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain the Commission's findings and order. The Court of Appeals, holding that "state laws cannot prevent the Federal Power Commission from issuing a license or bar the licensee from acting under the license to build a dam on a navigable stream since the stream is under the dominion of the United States" and that there was ample evidence to ...


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