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Coastside Fishing Club v. California Resources Agency

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20023
Nos. No. A116026, (Cal. App. 1st Dist., 01/14/2008)

A California appellate court upheld a lower court decision dismissing claims challenging a memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered into by a state agency and an environmental group to help implement the California Marine Life Protection Act. In enacting the statute, the state legislature failed to appropriate funds sufficient to support the new and substantial planning responsibilities required of the agency. The MOU was designed to rectify this problem through the creation of a “public-private partnership” that provided the resources necessary to comply with the Act's mandates. A fishing club argued that the MOU was not authorized by the Act and, therefore, violated the constitutional separation-of-powers doctrine. The Act, however, can reasonably be interpreted as conferring authority on the agency to enter a contract to obtain private funds to defray the costs of implementing a statutory scheme for which the legislature failed to provide adequate public funds. This interpretation is not inconsistent with the rule against delegation of legislative power implicit in the doctrine of separation of powers.