Archives: Water Quality

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D.C. Circuit Declines Review of US EPA Practices on Blending and Mixing Zones

On February 28, the D.C. Circuit in Center for Regulatory Reasonableness v. US EPA dismissed a challenge to statements made by the US EPA regarding two wastewater treatment techniques – blending and the use of mixing zones. US EPA previously prohibited these techniques in specified circumstances, and in 2013, the Eighth Circuit vacated these prohibitions in Iowa League … Continue Reading

Coalition Seeks to Compel US EPA Action on States’ Impaired Waters Listings for Lake Erie

A coalition of environmental and conservation groups have given US EPA notice of their intent to sue over the Agency’s failure to timely review Ohio’s and Michigan’s biennial impaired waters listings. Under §303(d)(2) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), US EPA is required to approve or disapprove a state’s proposed list of impaired waters not … Continue Reading

Proposed Settlement Agreement Requires US EPA to Promulgate Perchlorate Regulations by the End of 2019

US EPA recently agreed in federal court to engage in a rulemaking process over the next three-plus years which would culminate in the promulgation of final perchlorate regulations by December 19, 2019. Perchlorate remains the only unregulated contaminant for which US EPA has made a final determination to regulate since the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was amended in … Continue Reading

Despite New Administration, Environmental Groups May Influence Changes to US Industrial Stormwater Discharge Permits

Although the focus and priorities of a new US EPA administration under President-elect Trump remain unclear, regulatory changes may be in the works that could require certain industrial entities to either change how they handle stormwater discharges or face lawsuits brought by environmental groups. As described more fully below, US EPA entered into a settlement … Continue Reading

Oral Argument Approaching in Litigation to Expand 8th Circuit’s Ban on US EPA’s Blending Prohibition

Oral argument in the Center for Regulatory Reasonableness (CRR) v. EPA, Case No. 14-1150 (D.C. Cir.) matter has been set for October 21, 2016. At issue is the March 25, 2013 decision of the Eighth Circuit in Iowa League of Cities v. EPA, Case No. 11-3412, which vacated US EPA’s across-the-board prohibitions on the use … Continue Reading

New Ohio Law Increases Protections From Lead Contamination in Drinking Water

On June 9, 2016, Governor John Kasich signed House Bill (HB) 512, a multifaceted law that the Governor has said “puts Ohio in front” and makes Ohio “the leader in the country” in dealing with the problem of lead contamination in drinking water.  After the crisis in Flint, Michigan sparked a national inquiry and events in … Continue Reading

Implications Of The Brexit Vote On UK Environmental Law And Policy

Following a referendum which has polarised the nation, the people of the UK have voted to leave the European Union. Stepping away from the political rhetoric and posturing, it is worth reflecting on some of the more practical issues which will arise from this decision, such as how it could affect our environmental law landscape. … Continue Reading

US EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants for Voluntary Action a Striking Contrast to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

US EPA announced recently that it had awarded twenty-eight Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants totaling more than $12.5 million. Portions of this federal funding will provide financial assistance to owners of farmland who voluntarily act to reduce nutrient runoff from their land. The provision of federal funding to address issues in the Great Lakes … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Rules Against the Corps and in Favor of Landowners With Respect to the Reviewability of Jurisdictional Determinations, Reserving for Another Day the Full Scope of Finality under the Administrative Procedure Act

In one of the most closely watched environmental and administrative law cases this term, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the government on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, affirming the Eighth Circuit’s decision allowing federal courts to review the US Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdictional determinations. Jurisdictional determinations are decisions wherein the Corps determines whether wetlands or dry … Continue Reading

After Flint: New Ohio Bill Seeks Change Regarding Contaminated Drinking Water

The crisis in Flint, Michigan sparked a national inquiry into lead contamination in drinking water.  Subsequently, events in Sebring, Ohio raised questions locally and the Ohio General Assembly introduced a multifaceted piece of legislation, Ohio House Bill 512, that proposes significant new requirements for Ohio public water systems to respond to lead in drinking water. The key … Continue Reading

Brexit – What are the implications for UK environmental law and policy?

The topic of the moment in the UK is whether Brexit will be a good or a bad thing for the UK, and it seems to be polarising the nation. Stepping away from the political rhetoric and posturing, it is worth reflecting on some of the more practical issues arising from a UK exit from … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Jurisdictional Determination on “Waters of the United States” Fails to Resolve Legal Uncertainty

On February 22, a divided Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear suits over the joint US EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers’ controversial amendment to the definition of “waters of the United States.” Murray Energy Corp. v. US Dep’t of Def. et al., Slip op., No. 15-3751 (6th … Continue Reading

US Senate Falls Short in Attempt to Override Obama’s Veto of “Waters of the United States” Resolution

On January 21, 2016, Senate Republicans failed to override President Obama’s veto of a recent legislative attempt to block the “Waters of the US” Rule. The challenged Rule defines the term “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, while, as we noted previously, expanding federal jurisdiction over waters that were not previously … Continue Reading

Record Fine Imposed For UK Water Pollution Offence – Prevention Less Costly Than Cure?

The record fine of £1m recently handed down to Thames Water Utilities Limited is further evidence (if any were needed) that the Courts are willing impose extremely tough penalties on very large organisations found to have breached environmental regulations. Background Thames Water has an environmental permit to discharge treated sewage from Tring Sewage Treatment Works into … Continue Reading

Still Waters: Sixth Circuit Issues Nationwide Stay Against “Waters of the US” Rule

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay on October 9, 2015 against the “Waters of the United States” Final Rule. The Final Rule defines the term “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act while, as we noted previously, expanding federal jurisdiction over waters that were not previously covered. … Continue Reading

US District Court Blocks BLM Rule for Hydraulic Fracking on Federal and Tribal Land

On September 30, 2015, the US District Court for the District of Wyoming preliminarily enjoined the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from enforcing its final rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal and Native American lands, pending the resolution of a challenge to the rule under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) brought by various industry, state, … Continue Reading

US District Court Enjoins Waters of the US Rule But Limits Injunction to the 13 Plaintiff States

On August 27, 2015, the US District Court for the District of North Dakota granted a motion for preliminary injunction to a coalition of 13 states (the States) attempting to block implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, promulgated by US EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and set to go into … Continue Reading

Faced with Drought and Water Shortage, California Water Board Can’t Win For Losing

Things couldn’t be going much worse for the California State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”). In the midst of one of California’s worst droughts on record that has seen water levels drop to historic lows in California Reservoirs, Governor Jerry Brown and the Board have been desperate to find and implement ways to conserve water … Continue Reading

Draft US EPA Assessment Finds No Systematic Risk to Drinking Water from Hydraulic Fracturing

Earlier this month, US EPA released its long-awaited draft assessment on the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on the nation’s drinking water resources.  The assessment, titled Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources, represents over four years of study into the potential of hydraulic fracturing to … Continue Reading

Iowa Utility Files Lawsuit Over Agricultural Pollution

The Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) recently filed suit against several Iowa drainage districts for discharging excess nitrate pollution through groundwater in subsurface agricultural drainage systems into the Raccoon River, which DMWW relies upon to provide drinking water for approximately 500,000 Iowans. As previously reported here, the lawsuit seeks to hold these drainage districts liable … Continue Reading

Presentation on EPA/Corp’s Proposed Redefinition of “Waters of the US” Under Clean Water Act

On April 25, 2015, Jessica DeMonte (Principal, Columbus/Chicago) presented at the Ohio State Bar Association’s 30th Annual Environmental Law Conference on the controversial proposed rule jointly issued by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to revise the definition of “Waters of the US” for Clean Water Act programs.  The presentation provides an overview of … Continue Reading

The US BLM Issues Controversial New Fracking Rule

The Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a final rule on March 20, 2015 to regulate hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” on public and American Indian Lands.  Although the new rule has been final for less than three weeks, it is already a source of controversy. In a press release, the BLM explained that the new rules “will … Continue Reading

UK Privatised Water Companies – Not so Private!

The UK’s Upper Tribunal (“UT“) has ruled in Fish Legal v Information Commission and others that privatised water utility companies in England and Wales are considered to be “public authorities” for the purpose of the Environmental Information Regulations (2004) (“EIR“) due to their “special powers” above those of private law. The judgement means that water … Continue Reading
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