Center for Biological Diversity: Endangered Earth - Online # 196

7/30/1999 611

Fossil Creek Update

The battle to restore full flows to Fossil Creek, a rare 14 mile perennial stream that has been dammed for 90 years by Arizona Public Service Company (APS), rages on. The hydroelectric plants, which the Fossil Creek water fuels, produce less than 1/10th of one percent of the generating capacity of APS and only .02 percent of their profits.

Negotiations between APS and a group of environmental organizations continue, while the Southwest Center proceeds with a more aggressive campaign. The Southwest Center has issued notices of intent to sue for violations of NEPA, the ESA and the National Forest Management Act. The Southwest Center is also building a platform from which to bring intense public pressure to bear on APS.

An article concerning Fossil Creek and the Childs/Irving hydroelectric plant appeared in the New Times, April 29 - May 5, 1999 issue. The article quotes APS executives saying that they intend to decommission the plants if the costs and liability of doing so can be eliminated. In essence, the company that reaps profits of $500,000 annually and has been earning profits for 90 years from a stream on Forest Service land, is refusing to pay the price miniscule in comparison to its total profits of cleaning up after itself.

Based on the APS statements, Dr. Robin Silver, Conservation Chair for the Southwest Center, challenged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the power project licensing organization, to explain why they would consider relicensing a power plant whose owners are planning to shut it down. He also asked FERC to explain why it has taken seven years, so far, to consider decommissioning a project that devastates some of the rarest habitat in the Southwest while producing miniscule power and profits. FERC has yet to respond.