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Superior Court, Environmental Division, Issues Favorable Decision for Morrisville Water & Light Department

October, 2018

We are proud to share that firm Attorneys Gregory Eaton and Clara Conklin obtained a favorable ruling for Morrisville Water & Light Department (MWL) in an appeal of a water quality certification to the Superior Court Environmental Division. Representation at the agency level was provided by Attorney Elijah Emerson.

In 2015 MWL submitted an application for a water quality certification to the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) for its hydroelectric facilities project located on the Lamoille River and its tributaries in north-central Vermont. In 2016, the ANR issued a water quality certification with conditions that severely restricted the amount of renewable energy MWL was able to produce. MWL subsequently appealed the water quality certification to the Superior Court, Environmental Division. On appeal, MWL’s core argument was the conditions in the water quality certification were in excess of what was necessary to ensure compliance with Vermont Water Quality Standards (WQS).

The Court agreed with MWL, with respect to the flow regimes get forth in the water quality certification, finding those flows exceeded what is necessary to comply with the WQS. Ultimately, the Court adopted MWL’s proposed flow regimes for its facilities. The Court, however, did rule in favor of ANR with respect to the permissible drawdown in the Green River Reservoir. Notably, in its decision on the merits the Court affirmed hydroelectric generation is an existing use subject to protection of the Anti-Degradation Policy of the WQS and that a phase in period is permissible under the WQS.

More About the Participating Attorneys

Gregory M. Eaton

Greg has been trying cases in Vermont and New Hampshire since 1993. Drawing from his extensive experience in insurance defense, insurance coverage and business litigation matters, Greg is able to focus quickly on the essentials of a case, providing cost-efficient, responsive counsel. Greg’s expertise makes him a sought-after lecturer on insurance coverage, insurance claims handling and professional ethics and responsibility issues.

Clara E. Conklin

Clara joined the firm as an associate in October 2015 after graduating from Boston College Law School. During law school, she externed at the Massachusetts Land Court and worked as a student attorney in Boston College’s Civil Litigation Clinic. She continues her civil litigation work at our firm, primarily serving clients in New Hampshire’s North Country. Clara grew up on a family dairy farm in Haverhill, New Hampshire and remains passionate about agriculture and maintaining the vitality of the North Country communities.

Elijah D. Emerson

Eli Emerson works collaboratively with clients to provide cost-effective, practical solutions to energy, environmental and municipal challenges. He asks questions and listens carefully to clearly identify issues and anticipate possible problems that had not yet been considered. Drawing from his in-depth knowledge of energy, environmental and municipal law issues, Eli then proposes the most straightforward solutions to realize the client’s objectives.