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The Supreme Court has sided with a power company in a dispute with Montana over who owns the riverbeds beneath 10 dams sitting on three Montana rivers.
In a case that reached back to the travels of Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago, the court voted unanimously Wednesday to throw out a state court ruling that could have cost the company more than $50 million.
The justices said the Montana Supreme Court was wrong to conclude that the state owns the riverbeds and ordered the state court to
The decision reverses a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court, and could be used as precedent for disputes in other states.
Montana, though aware of the projects' existence, asked no rent for use of the riverbeds, the opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy said. Instead, "the understanding of PPL and the United States is that PPL has paid rents to the United States."
In 2003, parents of Montana schoolchildren filed suit in federal court claiming PPL's facilities were on riverbeds that were state-owned and part of Montana's school trust lands. The state joined the suit and for the first time sought rents from PPL for use of the riverbeds.
A judge granted Montana summary judgment and ordered PPL to pay Montana $41 million in rent for riverbed use between 2000 and 2007. The Montana Supreme Court affirmed, citing the navigable rivers doctrine. Navigable rivers are generally under the jurisdiction of the United States.
But in reversing the state court and sending the case back down for further consideration, Kennedy's opinion said the "Montana Supreme Court's ruling that Montana owns and may charge for use of the riverbeds at issue was based on an infirm legal understanding of this [Supreme] Court's rules of navigability for title under the equal-footing doctrine."
Originally posted by Patriotsrevenge
reply to post by -W1LL
" beneath 10 dams sitting on three Montana rivers. "
So its on their property, I agree with the courts ruling. The states and fed are grabbing land that does not belong to them just for money.
My old boss went through this. His land extended 25 feet out into a river basin and a bar he owned hung out over the water by 2 feet. The Casino boats in the area were the first to be gone after by the state because the state wanted to tax them because their docks were on state water. The Casino group fought them and lost, in the ruling every company who had anything hanging over or on state water was to be considered state land and taxed big time.
Not excluding my boss had owned and paid taxes on that land for the last 30 years. He lost 25 feet of land and now has to basically rent his bar from the state.
In most states in the United States, lakes and navigable-in-fact streams are maintained for drinking and recreation purposes under a public-trust doctrine. en.wikipedia.org...