This Friday, oral arguments will be heard in Squaxin Island Tribe v. Gregoire, a lawsuit the tribe filed last year to protect Johns Creek. For years the tribe has been urging the state to do the right thing and halt new well drilling in the Johns Creek basin.
Last year, the tribe asked the governor to step in, but she didn’t. Here’s the story from the time:
The Squaxin Island Tribe is appealing to Gov. Chris Gregoire the decision by the state Department of Ecology to reject a petition to protect Johns Creek. “Ecology’s inaction does further harm to our treaty-based fisheries,” said Andy Whitener, natural resources director for the Tribe. “Salmon recovery should not have to bear a disproportionate share of the fallout from tough economic times.”
This is the second time in two years that Ecology has rejected the Tribe’s request to protect Johns Creek, citing the need for study on the connection between ground and surface water in the Johns Creek watershed. The Tribe’s petitions were based on a state law that closes a watershed to new well drilling activity if not enough information exists to establish that water is legally available.
Here are the various court filings for this lawsuit. First, the tribe’s opening brief:
Then a response from Mason County:
Department of Ecology’s response:
Then, the tribe’s reply: