On December 2, 2011 attorneys for the Sacandaga Protection Committee (SPC) argued to preserve the Great Sacandaga Lake Permit System at oral argument before a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City.
In the case, titled Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation v. Hudson River – Black River Regulating District, the plaintiff power company sought a refund of more than $5 million in assessments paid to the regulating district plus interest. Niagara mohawk also argued that the Federal Power Act preempts virtually all of the regulating district's activities, including operation of the Great Sacandaga Lake Permit System, maintenance of the watershed, and even flood control.
Niagara Mohawk also asserted that SPC constituents should pay greater costs to the Regulating District as a beneficiary. SPC was represented at oral argument by its attorneys from Hodgson Russ LLP, with Benjamin K. Ahlstrom joining attorneys for the Regulating District in arguing against Niagara Mohawk's claim. SPC, with the Regulating District, had earlier prevailed before the Federal District Court in a decision by US District Court Judge Norman A. Mordue. It is this decision that Niagara Mohawk is appealing.
SPC has also sought permission from the New York State Supreme Court to intervene in twenty related lawsuits challenging the Regulating District's assessments of Niagara Mohawk and threatening the permit system and the region's tax base.
The Sacandaga Protection Committee is an all volunteer, not-for-profit corporation formed in May 2009 to develop strategies to protect the environmental, economic and legal interests of the entire lake community. It is composed of community leaders, lake users, permit holders and area property taxpayers.