Although the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, and gay marriage earned most of the attention during the 2012-2013 term, a number of significant decisions with regard to environmental law involving preemption, regulation of storm water run off, and the taking of property through environmental regulations were handed down by the Court. Below are the environmental cases decided by the Supreme Court during its recent term.
1. Deckert, Oregon State Forester v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center -
The Supreme Court determined that the Clean Water Act, and the implementing regulations, did not require permits before channeled storm water run off from logging roads can be discharged to navigable waters of the United States. The Supreme Court held that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) had broad discretion to regulate storm water run off and the EPA’s interpretation of its own regulations must be deferred to “unless the interpretation is plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation.” Accordingly, the Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s interpretation that logging roads were not related to manufacturing or processing of raw materials at an industrial plant so as to require a permit before the logging company defendant could allow storm water run off from those roads.
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