Tag Archives: Clean Water Act

US EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Propose Re-Codification of Definition of “Waters of the United States” Pre-Existing Rules

On July 27, 2017, US EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers published a Proposed Rule regarding the “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States; – Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules.” The Proposed Rule is a “first step in a comprehensive two-step process intended to review and revise” the definition of “waters of the United States” … Continue Reading

US EPA Approves Ohio’s Lake Erie Impairment Decision After Lawsuits Filed

US EPA recently approved Ohio’s 2016 list of impaired waters not meeting water quality goals which did not list the open waters of the Western Basin of Lake Erie as impaired. A coalition of environmental and conservation groups had recently filed lawsuits to force US EPA action on Ohio’s proposed listing in both the D.C. … Continue Reading

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

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

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

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

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

US EPA Violated Federal Law by Using Taxpayer Dollars to Fund “Covert Propaganda” and Illegal Grassroots Lobbying

A federal investigation has revealed that US EPA violated federal law by utilizing “covert propaganda” and illegal grassroots lobbying to encourage voters to support its Waters of the United States Rule (the “Clean Water Rule“).  US EPA’s legal violations in the context of the Clean Water Rule could lead to additional trouble for the agency.  Members of the … 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

Federal Judge Sides With US EPA In Pebble Mine FOIA Litigation

On August 24, 2015, Judge H. Russel Holland of the US District Court for the District of Alaska dealt a blow to Pebble Limited Partnership’s (Pebble Partnership) efforts to obtain documents which it believes could support its claim that US EPA failed to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by coordinating with environmental … 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

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

US Supreme Court Holds that Agencies Are Not Required to Comply With Notice and Comment Requirements When Revising Interpretative Rules

This month, in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, the US Supreme Court overturned the D.C. Circuit’s Paralyzed Veteran doctrine, rejecting nearly 20 years of precedent requiring federal agencies to abide by notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures when they substantially alter an “interpretive” rule. However, the decision also hints that even broader changes may be afoot.  Writing in … Continue Reading

Iowa Utility To Pursue Novel Lawsuit Over Agricultural Nitrate Pollution

The Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) recently issued a notice of intent (NOI) to sue three County Board of Supervisors that oversee several drainage districts reportedly responsible for excessive nitrate pollution being discharged from groundwater in subsurface agricultural drainage systems into the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers. Recent sampling efforts by DMWW have indicated nitrate … Continue Reading

Preliminary Injunction Halts US EPA’s CWA 404 Process on Pebble Mine To Evaluate Activists’ Connections

On November 25, 2014, a federal judge granted a motion for preliminary injunction, and ordered US EPA to stop all work pertaining to its investigation of and proposed plan to restrict discharges from the prospective Pebble Mine project near Bristol Bay in Alaska.  The plaintiff, Pebble Partnership, contended that US EPA failed to comply with the requirements … Continue Reading

Controversial “Waters of the US” Rule Proposal Draws Criticism as Public Comment Period Expires

The extended public comment period for the US EPA and Army Corp of Engineers’ proposed rule to redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA) expired November 14, 2014.  The proposed rule has come under intense scrutiny for its apparent expansion of CWA jurisdiction.  US EPA received nearly 500,000 public comments … Continue Reading

Definition of “Waters of the US”: US EPA Science Advisory Board Calls For Less Exclusions, More Jurisdiction

On April 21, 2014, US EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a proposed rule to redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). As previously reported here, the proposed rule has come under intense scrutiny for its apparent expansion of CWA jurisdiction. Now, recent reports published by US EPA’s … Continue Reading

Industry and Environmental Groups Seek Judicial Review of US EPA’s Cooling Water Intake Structure Rule

As expected, in the wake of the US EPA’s finalization of the cooling water intake structure rule, several groups filed lawsuits regarding the proposed rules. Cases were filed by environmental and industry groups in the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. In the initial round of filings, industry groups focused on whether the minimum … Continue Reading

US District Court Focuses on Reviewability of Agency Letters and Emails: Determinations to be Case-by-Case

In Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. EPA, the US District Court for the Western District of Washington held that emails and letters from US EPA staff to the Washington Department of Ecology (Department) describing US EPA staff’s belief that the Department’s fish consumption statistics were not accurate did not rise to the level of a statutory determination that the … Continue Reading

Unity Yes, Finality No: D.C. Circuit Rejects Challenge to US EPA Clean Water Act Policy Governing Mining Permits on Procedural Grounds

On July 11, in National Mining Association v. McCarthy – a case very important to the surface coal mining industry in the Appalachians – the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected industry arguments that US EPA had improperly adopted policies that made it harder for such mines to obtain two kinds of Clean Water Act (CWA) permits: permits under Section … Continue Reading

Ohio Aims to Boost Criminal Penalties for State Water Pollution Violations

Ohio Governor Kasich’s recently-introduced Mid-Biennium Budget Review Environment bill (HB 490) would revise R.C. § 6111.99 to significantly increase criminal penalties for violations of Ohio’s water pollution laws. Under current Ohio law, certain criminal violations of Ohio’s water pollution laws, such as water pollution acts, falsification of data, or criminal violations of orders, rules or permits … Continue Reading
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