Archives: Clean Water Act

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Ohio Appeals Dismissal of the State’s Complaint Against Rover Pipeline LLC Due to Ohio EPA’s Failure to Timely Respond to Request for CWA Section 401 Certification

On March 12, 2019, Judge Kristin G. Farmer for the Stark County Court of Common Pleas dismissed the State of Ohio’s Third Amended Complaint against Rover Pipeline. The State alleged that Rover had committed widespread environmental violations during the construction of its 713-mile interstate natural gas pipeline. The court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that … Continue Reading

Four Things to Know About US EPA’s Draft WOTUS Rule

On February 14, 2019, the US Army Corps of Engineers and US EPA (Agencies) published in the Federal Register the proposed rule to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States,” the term that identifies the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  The proposed rule is the second step in a two-part process … Continue Reading

US EPA Approves Missouri’s Innovative Approach to Limiting Nutrient Pollution

In December 2018, the US EPA approved Missouri’s standards for limiting nutrient pollution in lakes and reservoirs in the state. The Agency’s approval comes after years of past debate and litigation between US EPA and Missouri over the state’s approach to nutrient criteria and, notably, represents a reversal from US EPA’s Obama-era opposition to the state’s … Continue Reading

After Shutdown, US EPA Announces New Hearing Date for the New WOTUS Rule

As a result of the recent lapse in appropriations, the US EPA and US Department of the Army (Army) delayed a planned January 23, 2019 hearing regarding the proposed new “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition. Publication of the proposed rule and the start of the comment period on the rule were also postponed due … Continue Reading

Two Federal Courts Issue Decisions Against EPA “Suspension” Rule, Reviving and Protecting Obama-era Waters Rule

In the past two weeks, U.S. District Courts in South Carolina and Washington issued decisions that dealt additional blows to the Trump Administration’s efforts to unravel the 2015 Obama-era “waters of the United States” rule (“Obama Rule”).  In light of these rulings, the Obama Rule appears poised to remain effective in 22 states for at least … Continue Reading

California Water Board Sues Federal Agency for Pollutants Entering the U.S. Via the Tijuana River

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board) filed a complaint on September 4, 2018 against the United States Section of the International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC), alleging violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) related to contamination in the Tijuana River. Relying on a 1944 U.S./Mexico treaty, the complaint alleges that the … Continue Reading

Uncertainty Looms as Ohio Seeks to Address Lake Erie Impairment Issues Following Criticism from District Court

Ohio has reversed course on its prior decision not to include the open waters of Lake Erie in its 2016 impaired waters listing following an April 11 ruling by Judge James G. Carr of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.  The decision criticized the maneuvering of US EPA and Ohio EPA … Continue Reading

A Tilted Balance: Emerging Regulation of Nutrient Pollution in Ohio

Nutrient pollution has become a growing concern in the State of Ohio and elsewhere along the Great Lakes.  In the summer of 2014, large algae blooms in Lake Erie generated toxins that contaminated the City of Toledo’s drinking water.  In response, the City instructed 400,000 people not to drink or cook with tap water, prompting … Continue Reading

Flint Michigan Lead-Tainted Water Class Action Allowed to Continue

The US Supreme Court has denied review of a July 2017 Sixth Circuit ruling that revived two federal class action lawsuits seeking redress for plaintiffs alleging injury as a result of the lead-tainted water crises in Flint, Michigan.  In addition to ensuring that the Flint, Michigan water crises remains active in the national conversation, the Supreme Court’s … Continue Reading

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

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

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

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
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