What Happens to Wastewater From Oil and Gas Extraction? EPA Seeks Input

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun soliciting information for a new study that will examine how numerous entities across the U.S., including industry, stakeholders, local officials, energy providers, states, and the EPA itself, regulate and manage wastewater produced during the oil and gas extraction processes. The goal of the study is to develop better and more effective ways to dispose of, recycle, or reuse the wastewater generated during extraction. By way of example, and with regard to hydraulic
Continue reading...

Legal Acrobatics or Sound Interpretation: Ground Water Regulation under the Clean Water Act

In February, we reported about whether ground water can be regulated under the Clean Water Act. As a refresher, we discussed Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui — a case involving the indirect discharge of injection well wastewater into the ocean by traveling through groundwater. The court held there that for purposes of the CWA the injection wells were a point source, requiring an NPDES permit for groundwater because “the pollutants are fairly traceable from the point source to a
Continue reading...

Tijuana Blues: Mexican Wastewater Contaminates SoCal Coast, According to New Lawsuit

SoCal surfer dudes were in for a surprise when a serious funk rolled in with the tides in Imperial Beach and Chula Vista, California. A new lawsuit has been filed against the International Boundary & Water Commission – United States Section (IBWC or the Commission) and Veolia Water North America West for repeatedly failing to address “devastating pollution discharges” from the Tijuana River, which had been used as a dump for decades. In the last three years alone, severely polluted
Continue reading...

Can Groundwater Be Regulated Under the Clean Water Act?

Recently, we reported on the EPA’s decision to postpone the Clean Water Rule, a controversial rule pertaining to what bodies of water are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). While the CWA states that it regulates discharge from point sources into surface waters, what constitutes “surface waters” has continued to be an open and debated question, one that appears to have created a Circuit Court split that the U.S. Supreme Court may need to resolve. Specifically, on February 1,
Continue reading...

Clean Water Rule Update — The EPA Postpones Effective Date of WOTUS

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulates quality standards for surface waters. In May 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the Clean Water Rule (the Rule or WOTUS), hoping to clarify the reach of the elusive phrase “waters of the United States” — the bodies of water protected under the CWA. When the Rule passed in 2015, developers, farmers, and
Continue reading...

Woe is Me: EPA Seeks Help Defining WOTUS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) are seeking recommendations from stakeholders and the public in their effort to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The definition and interpretation of WOTUS is critical as it defines the federal government’s regulatory reach (and limits) when it comes to the country’s waterways. On February 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that directed EPA to
Continue reading...

The Trump Administration’s Unified Agenda: An Exercise in Deregulation

A few weeks ago, we outlined the Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Water Rule — an Obama era proposal that expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This past week saw the administration continue on that theme, deregulating the Obama era agenda. On Thursday, July 20, 2017, the administration released its semi-annual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions — a report on the actions that administrative agencies plan to issue in
Continue reading...

Don’t Spill the Nurdles! EPA Reaches Settlement with Two Plastic Manufacturers Over Pollution of the Los Angeles River and Permit Violations

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it reached an agreement with two Southern California plastic manufacturers over violations of the Clean Water Act.  In 2015, Western States Packaging Inc. (Western States) and Direct Pack Inc. (Direct Pack) were cited for violations relating to their use of plastic pellets, known as “nurdles,” at their manufacturing facilities in Southern California.  Nurdles are plastic beads about 1/5 of an inch in diameter that are used to make jars, bags
Continue reading...

The Rollback Begins: Is it the Beginning of the End for the Clean Water Rule?

President Trump recently got the ball rolling on rescinding or revising The Clean Water Rule (the Rule) — a President Obama-era environmental regulation that sought to expand the federal government’s reach under the Clean Water Act (CWA). For background, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, enacted in 1948 and later reorganized and expanded in 1972, is known today as the CWA. The CWA establishes a structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulates
Continue reading...