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Are Discharges to Groundwater Potentially Subject to the Clean Water Act? A Circuit Split Tees It Up.

The Sixth Circuit ruled earlier this week that discharges to groundwater are not subject Clean Water Act jurisdiction. We now have the requisite circuit split, opening the possibility of Supreme Court review. For those who...more

A Leaking Settling Pond Is Not A Point Source

On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court ruling and rejected the Sierra Club’s citizen suit against Virginia Electric Power alleging that releases of arsenic from a coal ash...more

WOTUS: Legal Issue or Scientific Issue?

Last week, EPA and the Army Corps issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in support of their efforts to get rid of the Obama WOTUS rule. It’s a shrewd but cynical document. It’s shrewd, because it fairly...more

The Constructive Submission Doctrine - Not Much of a Club Against States or EPA

Earlier last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court opinion and held that West Virginia had not “constructively submitted” no TMDLs for waters affected by ionic toxicity. (And, yes, that sentence is...more

6/25/2018  /  Appeals , Clean Water Act , EPA , TMDL

Another Ruling that Discharges to Groundwater May Be Subject to the Clean Water Act

Last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals – not the most liberal court in the land – joined the 9th Circuit in ruling that discharges from a point source to groundwater can be subject to the Clean Water Act. The decisions...more

Trump’s Infrastructure Plan — Environmental Reviews, They Are a-Changin’

President Trump’s infrastructure plan includes a number of important proposals. My initial reaction is consistent with my view of many of the President’s initiatives – he gives regulatory reform a bad name. We do need to...more

NGOs Again Fail to Establish that EPA Has a Non-Discretionary Duty Under the CWA Stormwater Regulations

Last month, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Conservation Law Foundation’s argument that EPA had a non-discretionary duty to require persons owner property where stormwater runoff contributes to an exceedance of...more

The 9th Circuit Weighs In — Discharges to Groundwater Are Subject to the Clean Water Act

As I’ve previously discussed, whether a discharge to groundwater may be subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction is currently in dispute. Now the 9th Circuit has weighed in, finding that point discharges to groundwater are...more

The Supreme Court Sends WOTUS Rule Challenges to the District Courts — It’s Good to Be King

On January 22,2018, the Supreme Court ruled that challenges to the WOTUS Rule must be heard in the district courts. At a certain level, the decision was easy and obvious – as evidenced by the absence of any dissent. ...more

When Is a Discharge to Groundwater Subject to the Clean Water Act? Can You Say “Significant Nexus”?

Whether the Clean Water Act regulates discharges to groundwater has been a topic of significant debate.  At this point, there seems to be something of a trend in the cases towards concluding it does, but it remains true that...more

11/13/2017  /  Clean Water Act , Coal Ash , Groundwater

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

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