If we are being honest, when it comes to the Clean Water Act, “navigable” is just one of those words that makes us all a bit tongue tied—not just because it’s tricky to pronounce, but because it is even more vexing to define, especially when we look to make sense of the regulatory definition of “waters of the United States.” Unpacking the definition of navigable and federally protected waters has indeed been the perennial work of scholars, judges, lawyers, and politicians alike since the CWA’s …Continue Reading
On December 17, 2020, two years after the Florida legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill serving as an initial step to promote the transfer of permitting authority from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the state of Florida, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the Sunshine State’s request and approved a plan transferring federal authority to the state to issue permits for projects affecting the state’s wetlands. Florida will be only the third state in the United States to be granted such broad permitting …Continue Reading
Last week, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan issued an Order for the Supreme Court on a stay application, limiting a lower court decision that prohibited new pipeline projects from using Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), a permit used for certain types of discharges in oil and gas infrastructure projects. The stay of the lower court decision does not apply to the Keystone XL pipeline project, which is the subject of a pending appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The stay …Continue Reading
As previously discussed in the Environmental Law Monitor, the Trump Administration has taken action throughout 2020 to narrow the scope of which wetlands and waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The recently limited rule took effect on June 22, 2020, which in essence, opens the doors for developers anxious to get to work ahead of future legal action and the 2020 presidential election.
The EPA first unveiled its planned Navigable Waters Protection Rule in January 2020. The regulation, also known as …Continue Reading
On June 1, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced it had enacted a rule to limit states’ ability to block the construction of energy infrastructure projects. Under the rule, first proposed in August 2019, the EPA will alter Section 401 of the U.S. Clean Water Act to make it impossible for a state to block a water permit for a project for reasons other than direct impacts of discharges into state waters and set a one-year deadline for a decision. The proposed rule can …Continue Reading
The state of California continued its crusade against the Trump Administration this month, filing a lawsuit against the U.S. EPA, challenging the agency’s replacement for the defunct 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). Sixteen other states joined the lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California. The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) as used in the Clean Water Act has been disputed for …Continue Reading
Last week, the United States Supreme Court provided additional guidance regarding the application of the Clean Water Act. In short, the Clean Water Act requires the federal government to regulate certain groundwater pollutants that find their way into navigable waters such as oceans, rivers and streams.
The recent Supreme Court opinion has been considered by many to constitute a compromise of opposing positions, as it rejects the Trump Administration’s goals of lesser regulation, but also eliminates a Ninth Circuit court ruling that would have increased permitting requirements related to …Continue Reading
The regulated industry needs to be aware that the U.S. EPA, last week, published its proposed 2020 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). The MSGP authorizes stormwater discharges associated with industrial activities in areas where EPA is the permitting authority.
Under Section 402(p) of the Clean Water Act, EPA has been directed to regulate stormwater discharges under the NPDES program–the program by which EPA and authorized states grant permits for discharges from a point source. The MSGP is a general NPDES …Continue Reading
Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the final version of a new rule called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which will define the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The WOTUS definition is important as it determines which of the nation’s waterways falls within the jurisdiction of the CWA, the federal law that regulates the discharge of pollutants to the country’s surface waters. The recent announcement regarding the Navigable Waters Protection Rule is the second of two steps in the …Continue Reading
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 actions. Generally, the more formal the …Continue Reading