Plaintiffs score again in stormwater case

A federal judge who said Clark County has to follow the state standard for controlling polluted runoff from newly-developed land while a legal challenge is pending before the state Court of Appeals dealt another blow to the county Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton signed an order denying Clark County’s motion to make the plaintiffs — Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper and Northwest Environmental Defense Center — post a bond while the case plays out in the state court.

After Leighton signed an injunction in late December saying the county has to follow the state standard, the county asked that the plaintiffs post a bond so, in the event the county eventually wins, the plaintiffs could pay costs and damages.

The county asked for a $1.1 million bond.

No, Leighton said.

Acknowledging that he has the authority to require a bond, Leighton wrote in a two-page order that he must consider if requiring a bond would “effectively deny access to judicial review.” He also has to consider the likelihood of success.

“Here, Plaintiff has little or no means to post a substantial bond,” Leighton wrote. “The litigation seeks to enforce provisions of the Clean Water Act, and as such, is in the public interest. Further, Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, given the indications of the Pollution Control Hearings Board.”

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