Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Owens Valley dust lawsuit lands in Fresno

Los Angeles is suing the air district in the Owens Valley, asking a federal court to say enough is enough. LA has spent $1.2 billion on settling the dust at the dried Owens Lake, the lawsuit says, and it’s time to back off.

This is part of the infamous LA water grab a century ago when the big city drained the Owens Valley and turned the lake into a dust bowl. LA has been paying for years to control billowing dust storms in the lake bed.

The suit was filed this month at the U.S. District Court in Fresno. Given the turmoil over Owens Valley in the past, it is very interesting reading. You can read it here: owenslake.

The lawsuit, which names the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, makes it sound like this has been a contentious affair for the last few years. Now it’s downright nasty.

LA says the district is keeping a $2 million pot of the city’s money — basically an unlawful extra fund that came from overpayments. The district also tried to fund a legal war chest by assessing $500,000 in supplemental fees to LA, the lawsuit alleges.