With no explanation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has dismissed, without prejudice, two lawsuits. One, against the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District. The second, against the California Air Resources Board.
In February, LADWP had refused an order from the APCD to clean up more Owens Dry Lake dust on 2.9 square miles. DWP appealed this order to the state Air Resources Board. That board issued an appeal process and DWP sued them over the process. Next, LADWP filed suit against APCD to avoid paying the district’s attorneys fees even though the state air board said they should. The APCD Board had issued an assessment for LA to pay $250,000 in attorneys fees. DWP has now dropped both of these lawsuits.
APCD recently filed a motion objecting to DWP’s suit. That issue was scheduled for hearing May 1 and DWP had to file a brief in the case Wednesday. Instead, LADWP lawyers filed papers with the court to dismiss the lawsuits against both APCD and ARB.
DWP will apparently go ahead with the appeal of the order to clean up more of the dry lake dust. An opposition brief was due Thursday.
Director of the APCD, Ted Schade, said that the DWP Commissioners talked about the lawsuits in closed session on Tuesday and the dismissals came out Wednesday. It is known that a couple of weeks ago, DWP hired a well-known water attorney, Stuart Somach of Somach Simmons & Dunn of the Sacramento area, to focus on Owens Dry Lake issues.
Did Somach advise a new strategy? Officials in the Eastern Sierra continue to wonder what DWP is up to as they watch the legal attack on Mammoth Lakes’ water rights, renewed spats with Inyo County over water and now a seeming about face on air quality issues.