Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Secret Water Wars Mediator

A Special Master whose ruling could influence an eventual U.S. Supreme Court decision to turn down Georgia’s water spigot has set a trial in his home state of Maine, where attorneys for Georgia and Florida agreed to begin arguments on Halloween. In the meantime, each side stated they continue to pursue settlement of the federal lawsuit Florida filed under the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction, seeking to push Georgia’s water consumption from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin including Lake Lanier, back to 1992 levels and to get reparations for alleged economic and environmental harm to Apalachicola's oyster fisheries from drought. Ralph I. Lancaster, Jr., the 86-year-old veteran Supreme Court appointee, has repeatedly advised the states to settle out of court rather than live with a costly decision he stresses neither will like. The states chose a nationally known mediator whose name, oddly enough, has been kept secret by Master Lancaster’s order. Recent status reports filed by the attorneys indicate meetings between the mediator and high level state officials were continuing before trial. The parties reportedly participated in multiple one-on-one telephonic discussions with the mediator; exchanged further confidential mediation proposals; and met face-to-face in Atlanta with the mediator. Except to hear progress reports, Master Lancaster wants no part of the mediation process. He denied Florida’s suggestion to talk with the mediator, saying “'I have no intention of invading (the process) or influencing or discussing with the mediator anything that's going on.'" See news item here-- http://bit.ly/2apC4l5 and docket here-- http://bit.ly/2aMQVJH