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Meet the New WOTUS. Same as the Old WOTUS.

Earlier this week, EPA and the ACOE began implementing the Trump administration’s efforts to deconstruct the Obama rule defining “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. EPA and the ACOE submitted for Federal...more

The Executive Order on the WOTUS Rule: Will It Really Reduce Regulatory Uncertainty?

March 2nd, 2017, President Trump issued another executive order on the environment, this time directing EPA to revisit the EPA rule defining Waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act. It’s a curious order, for a...more

EPA Has a Nondiscretionary Duty to Review West Virginia’s Failure to Submit TMDLs

Acting in response to state legislation, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection ceased work on promulgation of total maximum daily loads related to ionic toxicity. Ionic toxicity is a consequence of...more

Three Strikes and Mingo Logan Is Out: The D.C. Circuit Affirms EPA Withdrawal of Approval of Mountaintop Removal Disposal Sites

In 2013, the D.C. Circuit affirmed EPA’s authority to withdrawal approval of mountaintop mining disposal sites, even after the Army Corps has issued a Section 404 permit. In 2014, the District Court rejected Mingo Logan’s...more

Violations of Environmental Law Are About To Get More Expensive

On July 1, EPA promulgated an interim final rule making inflation adjustments to the civil penalties under statutes it administers. The adjustments are required by statute. The new amounts apply to violations that occurred...more

Corps Jurisdictional Determinations Are Final Agency Action: Now What?

In a decision that was not a surprise based on oral argument, the Supreme Court today ruled that Army Corps of Engineers Jurisdictional Determinations concerning “waters of the United States” are final agency action subject...more

Better Late Than Never: Massachusetts Moves to Obtain NPDES Delegation

Like most federal environmental programs, NPDES program authority is largely delegated to the states. Only four states aren’t delegated: Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Mexico. How is it that progressive...more

Are Corps Jurisdictional Decisions Final Agency Action? It Appears So. Is This a Good Thing?

According to the trade press, today’s argument in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes did not go well for the government. Pretty much the entire Court was seen as likely to conclude that Corps jurisdictional determinations are...more

Courts Must Determine The Economic Benefit Of Noncompliance In Assessing CWA Penalties

It is well-known that the “economic benefit of noncompliance” is one of the factors to be evaluated in setting penalties under the Clean Water Act. Thus, it is not surprising that, after an oil spill at Citgo’s facility in...more

When Is A Discharge to Groundwater a Discharge to a Water of the United States?

The Clean Water Act regulates discharges of pollutants to waters of the United States. That term is not understood to include groundwater. The Sierra Club was unhappy about alleged discharges to groundwater from coal ash...more

Pre-enforcement Review? Not Enough. How About Pre-issuance Review?

In Sackett, the Supreme Court ruled that EPA could not issue enforcement orders under the Clean Water Act without allowing the subjects of the order the right to bring a pre-enforcement challenge to such orders under the...more

Two Days, Three Decisions, One Big Mess: Welcome to Judicial Review of the Waters of the United States Rule

On Wednesday, Judge Irene Keeley of the Northern District of West Virginia held that district courts do not have jurisdiction to hear challenges to EPA’s rule defining waters of the United States, because courts of appeal...more

EPA Defines “Waters of the United States”. The Sky Has Not Fallen.

Yesterday, EPA and the Army Corps finally released their long-awaited rule defining “waters of the United States.” I’m actually with EPA and the Corps on this one. It’s an important rule, and I’m glad that EPA and the Corps...more

EPA Really Has A Lot Of Discretion In Deciding Whether to Promulgate Water Quality Standards

When a number of citizen groups petitioned EPA to determine that it is necessary under the Clean Water Act to promulgate water quality standards for nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin and the Northern Gulf of...more

What’s a Significant Nexus? The Answer, My Friend, Is Flowin’ Through the Ditch.

Even assuming that the “significant nexus” test from Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion in Rapanos defines waters of the United States subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction, the question remains what establishes a...more

Déjà Vu All Over Again: CLF and CWRA Try Once More to Get EPA to Regulate Stormwater Discharges to the Charles River

In 2008, EPA made a preliminary determination to use its residual designation authority (RDA) under the Clean Water Act to designate stormwater discharges from two or more acres of impervious surfaces in the Lower Charles...more

A Federal Court Rules that Increased Conductivity Impairs a Stream — How Shocking!

On Tuesday, Chief Judge Robert Chambers ruled that Fola Coal Company violated the Clean Water Act by discharging mine waste with sufficiently high levels of conductivity to cause or materially contribute to impairment of...more

EPA Really Does Have Authority To Withdraw Specifications Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act

Last year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that EPA has authority to withdraw its approval for the specification of sites for the disposal of fill material, even after the Army Corps has issued a permit for the...more

The SAB Enters the “Waters of the United States” Fray: Guess Which Side the Scientists Support

The Science Advisory Board has now provided its advice to EPA and the ACOE concerning their proposed rule clarifying the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. In a brief letter that can only...more

More Than (You Thought) You Ever Wanted To Know About Waters Of The United States

Over the past few months, I worked with a number of colleagues from the American College of Environmental Lawyers to provide the Environmental Council of the States with a balanced review of the history and background of how...more

NPDES Permits Are Construed Narrowly Against the Permittee

In July, we noted that the Clean Water Act’s permit shield defense would be construed narrowly, applying only where a permittee had clearly disclosed that the relevant pollutant to the agency. This week, in Alaska Community...more

EPA Wins Two Clean Water Cases in One Day: The Fourth Circuit Affirms a Narrow Construction of the Permit Shield Defense

Yesterday, I noted that the D.C. Circuit rejected challenges to EPA’s Enhanced Coordination Process and Final Guidance on Clean Water Act permitting for mining activities. It was not EPA’s only CWA victory. On the same day,...more

The D.C. Circuit Rejects Challenge to EPA’s Final Guidance on CWA Coal Mining Permits: EPA Action Has to Be Really, Really, Final...

On Friday, the D.C. Circuit reversed Judge Reggie Walton’s decision from 2012 and affirmed EPA’s authority to adopt the “Enhanced Coordination Process” governing coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers in the processing...more

Definitely a Victory For Regulations Over Guidance: EPA Issues Proposed Rule Defining Waters of The United States

The Supreme Court issued its decision in Rapanos almost 8 years ago and EPA has been struggling ever since to figure out what “waters of the United States” are within the meaning of the Clean Water Act. After several failed...more

Coal Companies, Don’t Look Behind; EPA May Be Gaining on You

As the lawyers among our readers know, the denial of a certiorari petition does not establish precedent. However, that doesn’t make it unimportant. Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied cert. in Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. EPA. ...more

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