The first fallout from Alcoa's announcement that they are seeking dismissal of their legal appeal regarding the 401 Water Quality Certificate and plan to reapply for a new Certificate seems to be that Stanly County has figured out it no longer has anything to trade. Yesterday, September 5th, they sent a legal filing to FERC requesting that FERC require, in Alcoa's license, a provision to provide Stanly County with up to 30 million gallons per day of water from the Yadkin River, some of it at no cost (which would exempt Stanly County from license provisions which apply to every other water user), and allow Stanly County to build two new water intakes. You may recall that two Commissioners recently supported a settlement with Alcoa in which Alcoa would have suported the County in accessing more water, as well as provide the County with money for water infrastructure and economic development, in return for the County's withdrawing its legal roadblocks. The other three Commissioners rejected the offer. (see Two Stanly Commissioners Break Ranks) Apparently the Commissioners are now going over Alcoa's head and asking FERC directly for the water withdrawal rights.
The only thing is, you don't just write a letter (or have your lawyer write a letter) asking for a large water withdrawal! You may recall that the provision for increased water withdrawal by Albemarle, which was agreed to by Alcoa and the other Relicensing Settlement Agreement signatories, stated that the provision was pending FERC approval. Albemarle would still have to submit an application, meet requirements, probaby provide one or more consultant reports, I think get a permit from North Carolina, and, I think (I'm not an expert on water withdrawals, but all FERC approvals require extensive applications) allow for public comments. Then FERC, which has to approve all water withdrawal applications over one milion gallons per day, would have to consider all the ramifications and decide whether it would approve the application. Stanly County is asking FERC to bypass all these requirements, and require its water withdrawal in the license terms. Besides that, the deadline for submitting public comments to FERC was years ago!
I'm coining a new term to apply to the Stanly County Board - "Keystone Kommissioners"! These yohos just don't know what they're doing!
Another interesting factoid in the submission (you can view it in its entirety here http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20120905...) is that the Commission approved a resolution on this the day before, Setpember 4th. So, either their attorneys work awfully fast, or there was something going on behind-the-scenes beforehand. Does anyone know what the vote was on this resolution? And you can expect some additional legal expenditures to show up.
Stanly County would have been better off if they'd turned a deaf ear to Roger Dick and participated in the relicensing process in good faith. They're claiming "new circumstances", but I'd suggest it was more a lack of foresight, coupled with their lack of cooperation with the City of Albemarle.