Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Impacting Environmental and Regulatory Law

The recent term of the United States Supreme Court featured several rulings on environmental and other regulatory issues. This update highlights the major environmental decisions this term, as well as some of the issues the Court will consider next term.

Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 710, decided January 8, 2013. -

In this matter, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in a municipal stormwater control case involving the stormwater management of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers. The Court held that there was no “discharge of a pollutant” into navigable waters under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) when contaminated water “flows from one portion of a river that is a navigable water of the United States through a concrete channel or other engineered improvement in the river, and then into a lower portion of the same river.” Justice Ginsburg’s opinion notes that in South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe, the Court held that the transfer of contaminated water between two parts of the same water body does not constitute the regulated discharge of pollutants.

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