FPC v. Oregon,
349 U.S. 435 (1955)

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U.S. Supreme Court

FPC v. Oregon, 349 U.S. 435 (1955)

Federal Power Commission v. Oregon

No. 367

Argued March 2-3, 1955

Decided June 6, 1955

349 U.S. 435


The Federal Power Commission issued to a power company a license to construct, operate and maintain a hydroelectric plant, constituting Pelton Project No. 2030, on reserved lands of the United States on the Deschutes River in Oregon. The State of Oregon challenged the authority of the Commission to issue the license and the adequacy of the provisions approved by the Commission for the conservation of anadromous fish.

Held: the Federal Power Act is applicable in accordance with its terms, and the Commission acted within its powers and its discretion in granting the license. Pp. 349 U. S. 437-452.

1. The Federal Power Act is applicable to this license. Pp. 349 U. S. 441-446.

(a) The federal jurisdiction here derives from the ownership or control by the United States of the reserved lands on which the licensed project is to be located. P. 349 U. S. 442.

(b) The authority to issue licenses in relation to public lands and reservations of the United States stems from the Property Clause, Art. IV, § 3, of the Constitution. Pp. 349 U. S. 442-444.

(c) Authorization of this project is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commission, and does not require the consent of the State. Pp. 349 U. S. 445-446.

2. The Acts of July 26, 1866, July 9, 1870, and the Desert Land Act of 1877 do not apply to this license, which relates only to the use of waters on reservations of the United States. Pp. 349 U. S. 446-448.

(a) The lands involved here are not "public lands," but "reservations," and these Acts do not apply to reserved lands and waters. Pp. 349 U. S. 446-448.

(b) Statutes providing generally for disposal of the public domain are inapplicable to lands which are not unqualifiedly subject to sale and disposition because they have been appropriated to some other purpose. P. 349 U. S. 448.

3. There was no abuse of discretion by the Commission in granting the license. Pp. 349 U. S. 448-452.

(a) In the reregulation of the flow of the stream, the Commission acts on behalf of the people of the State, as well as all others,

Page 349 U. S. 436

in seeing to it that the interests of all concerned are adequately protected. P. 349 U. S. 449.

(b) The provision for the operation and maintenance of fish conservation facilities was reasonable, and within the Commission's discretion. Pp. 349 U. S. 449-452.

(c) The contention that the project will preclude the carrying out of certain plans for the Columbia River Basin may properly be directed to the Commission or to Congress, but is not for this Court to answer upon the basis of existing legal rights. P. 349 U. S. 452.

211 F.2d 347 reversed.

Page 349 U. S. 437

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