WRD: Court Approves Injunction Against Tesoro Oil Company

Judge Orders Tesoro to Pay Outstanding Water Bills or Stop Pumping Groundwater

Apr 25, 2013, 15:38 ET from Water Replenishment District of Southern California

LAKEWOOD, Calif., April 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph W. Dau ruled in favor of an injunction against Texas oil giant, Tesoro Corporation, filed by the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD).  WRD filed the injunction to stop Tesoro from pumping groundwater because the company has not paid its monthly replenishment assessment (RA) since May 2012 and owes more than $900,000, funds which are crucial to WRD's ability to provide safe and reliable water to the public.

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Judge Dau's approval of the injunction requires Tesoro to pay within 10-days its outstanding bills to WRD or discontinue pumping groundwater it uses for its plant operations. WRD, area groundwater pumpers and ratepayers applaud the judge's decision as a ruling that protects the long term health of the region's groundwater basins.

"Today's ruling by Judge Dau is a victory for the district's pumpers and ratepayers because it upholds a universal principle – you can't get something for nothing," said Albert Robles, WRD Board President. "Tesoro has disrespected the stakeholders of this district for nearly one year by refusing to pay what they owe with rampant disregard to the impact on the public's groundwater basins."

Tesoro tried to convince the court that a previous ruling by another judge invalidated WRD's RAs and therefore Tesoro was not obligated to pay the RA. Judge Dau dismissed this claim by noting:

"Tesoro's argument that rulings by another judge of this court have established the invalidity of WRD's RAs for the water years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 is unavailing. Those rulings have not been reduced to final judgments, and no writs have issued in those proceedings. Tesoro's contention that in other cases a judge of this court denied the kind of interim relief sought here by WRD does not help its cause. Those rulings are the subject of an appeal."

Dau's ruling marks the second legal setback for Tesoro which sued WRD alleging financial damages. Last month in a ruling from the bench, Judge Robert O'Brien dismissed claims for damages, pointing out that no "damages" can exist since Tesoro refused to pay for the groundwater. Both rulings come at a time when Tesoro is attempting to get California's support for its purchase of BP's oil refinery in the City of Carson, which would expand Tesoro's groundwater pumping rights.

"In the end, groundwater pumpers have to uphold their responsibility to the public to keep our groundwater basins intact by paying their fair share to refill the water in those basins. The vast majority of pumpers understand this and have lived up to that commitment," stated Robles.  "This court decision sends a strong message to others who would consider refusing to pay what they owe," Robles added.

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California is the regional groundwater management agency that protects and preserves the quantity and quality of groundwater for two of the most utilized urban groundwater basins in the State of California. The service area is home to over ten percent of California's population residing in 43 cities in southern Los Angeles County. WRD is governed by a publicly elected Board of Directors which includes Willard H. Murray, Jr., Robert Katherman, Lillian Kawasaki, Sergio Calderon, and Albert Robles.

For more information, please visit WRD at www.wrd.org

SOURCE Water Replenishment District of Southern California