Pacific Lumber Company v. State Water Resources Control Board

37 Cal. 4th 921 (2006)

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Pacific Lumber Company v. State Water Resources Control Board

California Supreme Court
37 Cal. 4th 921 (2006)

Facts

The Elk River Timber Company (Elk River) owned 700 acres of wooded land in Humboldt County. In 1997, Elk River announced its intention to log this land and, pursuant to the California Forest Practice Act (FPA), submitted a timber-harvesting plan (THP) to the California Department of Forestry (CDF) for approval. The THP underwent the multidisciplinary review process required by the FPA, and the CDF approved it. Two years later, the property was sold to Pacific Lumber Company (Pacific Lumber) (plaintiff). Pacific Lumber requested that the CDF approve several amendments to the THP. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (regional water board) objected to Pacific Lumber’s request in a formal letter, noting that Pacific Lumber had not proposed any water-quality-monitoring program, and without such a program, there was a chance the amendments would violate state water-quality laws. The CDF approved the amendments over the regional water board’s opposition. The regional water board did not appeal. Instead, it issued its own order requiring Pacific Lumber to adopt a comprehensive water-quality-monitoring program. Pacific Lumber filed a petition with the State Water Resources Control Board (state water board) (defendant), asking it to rescind the regional water board’s order. Pacific Lumber claimed that the FPA precluded the regional water board from imposing monitoring requirements not found within the THP. The state water board upheld the regional water board’s authority to require monitoring. Pacific Lumber then sued the state water board in state court. The trial court held that the regional water board lacked the authority to impose water-monitoring requirements that were not included in the approved THP. The state water board appealed, and the court of appeal reversed. Pacific Lumber appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moreno, C.J.)

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