Over 40 percent of the lands in Malheur County have been designated as core habitat for sage grouse by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ("ODFW"). Other counties in southeastern Oregon are also heavily affected. ODFW’s approach was to simply recommend against any development in core habitat, without consideration whether off-site mitigation could result
Tim McMahan is a partner practicing in the areas of energy, land use, real estate development, environmental and municipal law. He has offices in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Tim has extensive experience in representing energy facility developers, property owners and municipal clients in Washington and Oregon. Tim focuses his practice on advocating for and defending renewable energy, natural gas pipeline, natural gas generation and electrical transmission projects and other energy facilities facing opposition.Prior to joining Stoel Rives in 1999, Tim served as the Port Townsend City Attorney for over five years, during which he guided Port Townsend through downtown historic district preservation strategies, Growth Management Act implementation, successfully defended the city's Comprehensive Plan and Shoreline Master Program in agency and judicial litigation, and developed innovative strategies to protect Port Townsend's municipal water supply from spiraling demands.
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We’re very pleased to report on a significant energy siting victory achieved by our client SDS Lumber Co. and its subsidiary, Whistling Ridge Energy LLC, at the Washington Supreme Court yesterday. We believe the decision sets an important precedent for energy facility siting in Washington. The case is Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Inc. and Save our Scenic Area vs. State Energy Facility Siting Council and Governor Gregoire, et. al., No. 88089-1.
At issue was the approval of a wind energy project to be sited near the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Then-Washington Governor Christine Gregoire had approved the project in March 2012 following recommendation by the State of Washington’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC). Two environmental groups, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Inc. and Save our Scenic Area, then sued in an attempt to get the site approval overturned.
On August 29, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled there was "no basis" to reverse the EFSEC’s recommendation or the Governor’s approval, and dismissed the appeal. In so doing, the Court gave an unequivocal affirmation for an objective, criteria-based process for the approval of energy projects. The Court confirmed that it will defer to EFSEC and the Governor when the siting decision demonstrates consideration of the entire record and sound application of regulatory standards.
Stoel Rives represented Whistling Ridge Energy, LLC, throughout the three-year approval process, and prevailed in demonstrating the project’s compliance with a host of federal, state and local regulatory standards. As the Court noted (quoting EFSEC), the comprehensive approval process "set a record for length, volume, and number of issues addressed." We subsequently represented Whistling Ridge throughout the trial and appeals process.…