A Lighter Touch: USACE Withdraws Water Supply Rule

The law of administrative agencies creates a unique incentive system.  In many cases, the legislature grants broad authority over a given field to an administrative agency, empowering the agency to both create and enforce rules governing that field.  There is some judicial oversight that controls how agencies make and enforce their rules. However, courts recognize that the agencies have greater expertise in their fields of authority, and they therefore grant a measure of deference to administrative agencies in reviewing agency
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EPA Proposed Rule Changes Questioned Based on Scientific Principles

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is introducing significant changes to reduce environmental regulations on several critical issues, despite sharp criticism from several scientific advisers. The proposed changes reduce the standards governing waterways and wetlands, in addition to those governing gasoline mileage emissions for vehicles within the United States. Other changes are under consideration, including the EPA’s change of its calculation limiting air pollutants from coal-fired power plants, as well as the implementation of restrictions regarding the types of permissible scientific
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New Lawsuit puts EPA Repeal of WOTUS Rule in the News Again

On December 20, 2019 a coalition of 14 states, including both New York and New Jersey along with the District of Columbia and New York City, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers,  challenging the new rule that redefines the term “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA), which went into effect on December 23, 2019. The new lawsuit can be added to the list
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CDC Revises Number of Reported Legionellosis Cases Upward

The original number of cases of Legionellosis reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for calendar year 2018 was already at a record 8,356 cases. This November, that number was revised upward to 9,933 cases, representing an increase of 18.8 percent . Although Legionellosis includes both Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, the vast majority of these newly reported cases were for the more serious diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease. Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by a
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Environmental Advocacy Groups Mount New Challenges to EPA Decision-Making Under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act

The EPA has been called to task on multiple fronts in the past week by challenges from environmental advocacy groups. The agency faces new claims in a federal suit filed by several entities in the District of South Carolina due to the repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which determines the waterways that are covered by the Clean Water Act (CWA). The repeal was previously reported by the Environmental Law Monitor. Additionally, a petition was filed last week by a coalition of renewable fuel
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Early Halloween Scares: Defendants File Motion To Dismiss In 20 Long Island 1,4-Dioxane Litigations

Earlier this year, Environmental Law Monitor  posted about 1,4-dioxane litigations filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. These litigations followed on the heels of the Suffolk County Water Authority’s (SCWA) 2017 watershed action concerning drinking water contamination. Almost two years removed from the SCWA action, it appears that at least 27 Long Island water districts have filed actions (with three new filings this month), mostly following in line with the litigation strategy developed by
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Inspector General Directs the EPA to Improve Oversight of Public Drinking Water Regulations

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report that found the EPA is failing to properly monitor state-level compliance for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Federal regulations mandate that public water systems notify consumers of violations of the national drinking water standards or in situations that pose a risk to the public. These violations and situations are divided into three tiers with specific notice requirements. Under the SDWA, 49 states and certain territories are responsible for implementing the
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WOTUS War Surges Forward As EPA Announces Repeal of 2015 Rule

Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Administrator, Andrew R. Wheeler, signed a rule for publication that would repeal the 2015 Clean Water rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.  The 2015 WOTUS rule allowed for a significant extension of the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” to include waters such as headwaters, wetlands, and streams. The 2015 rule interpreted the CWA to cover these waters reasoning that they require protection “in order to restore and
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Natural Gas Pipeline One Step Closer to Reality For Residents of New York

The United States Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) has issued an order holding that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) waived its authority under the Clean Water Act to issue or deny a water quality certification for the proposed Constitution Natural Gas Pipeline because DEC failed to act in a timely manner. Entities proposing to construct interstate natural gas pipelines are subject to a multitude of state and federal permitting regulations and statutes. One such requirement, as scrutinized
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EPA Taps Public for Comment on Water Reuse Plans

Water scarcity is a growing concern for the EPA, as discussed in depth in its National Water Reuse Action Plan issued this week. The plan outlines ways that the EPA can work with state and local governments to promote water reuse and support research into new technologies. Due to various pressures, 80 percent of U.S. states anticipate water shortages in some parts of their states in the next decade. Over the past several decades, agriculture, industry, and communities have faced
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