The Gorge Powerhouse in Newhalem. (Seattle City Light)

The Gorge Powerhouse in Newhalem. (Seattle City Light)

Sauk-Suiattle tribe sues Seattle utility over green stance

The lawsuit seeks to stop Seattle City Light from claiming it’s environmentally responsible utility.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Seattle on behalf of its members and the public, saying the electric utility’s green power claims are misleading and hurting the tribe.

The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court Friday seeks to stop Seattle City Light from claiming that it’s a fish-friendly, green and environmentally responsible utility until Seattle provides fish passage at its three Skagit River dams.

“Until that happens, they are not as green as they say they are,” said Nino Maltos, chairman of the tribe.

More than 80% of City Light’s energy comes from hydropower, which doesn’t directly emit climate-warming carbon dioxide.

The city of Seattle is in the midst of a re-licensing process for it the dams. The tribe insists the utility can’t claim its dams are green while they block salmon passage on the region’s premier salmon river.

Julie Moore, spokeswoman for Seattle City Light, said the utility won’t comment on litigation. But she said the re-licensing process “gives us the opportunity to update the research and determine what additional measures may be necessary to protect fish moving forward. This includes looking at fish passage.”

Native wild Chinook salmon, steelhead and resident bull trout within the Skagit River drainage all are threatened with extinction and are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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