Federal Power Commission v. Oregon
United States Supreme Court
349 U.S. 435 (1955)
The Northwest Power Supply Company of Portland (later Portland General Electric Company of Portland, Oregon) (Portland Electric) sought a license from the Federal Power Commission (the commission) (defendant) to build a dam with a hydroelectric plant on the Deschutes River in Oregon. The project would return the dammed water to the river but block native fish migration and would be built on United States and Indigenous lands reserved for power purposes. The affected Indigenous tribe did not object to the project. The dam would create a narrow reservoir that would submerge United States-owned lands. The State of Oregon, among others (Oregon) (plaintiff), intervened to object to the project before the commission, claiming the commission was exceeding its authority and that the proposed fish-conservation efforts were inadequate. The commission rejected the objections, finding that the project would serve the public interest in power generation and use of the otherwise nonnavigable river. The commission also determined that the proposed conservation efforts were appropriate. Asserting that the commission was improperly usurping its authority over the land and nonnavigable waters, Oregon appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The appellate court concurred with Oregon that the project must also obtain the state’s permission to proceed. At the commission’s urging, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Burton, J.)
Dissent (Douglas, J.)
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