Federal PFAS Regulation Around the Corner?

The Senate and House both are considering Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulations this summer. Last month, the Senate began inching closer to consensus on certain regulations. Following two hearings in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the PFAS Release Disclosure Act was considered in committee and filed as an amendment to S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act heading to the Senate floor.

The Senate PFAS legislation would require reporting of PFAS releases as part of the Toxic Release Inventory Reporting program, address …

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Global Plastic Proliferation – An Emerging Climate Threat

From teeming landfills, choked rivers, and Pacific Ocean garbage gyres, to potential harm to marine and animal life from micro-plastic debris spanning the poles to the deepest part of the oceans, the growing proliferation of plastics is triggering a growing realization that the world has a plastics problem. This is not just an environmental pollution problem. Scientists are beginning to understand that plastics – from cradle to grave – potentially could have an unrealized significant impact on global climate change.

Earlier this month, the Center …

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WOTUS Woes – Federal Judge Remands Obama-Era CWA Rule

Last week, a federal district judge in Texas remanded the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule to the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (US ACE), citing the agencies’ failure to use proper procedure when publishing the rule.

​The 2015 rule, generally referred to as WOTUS, allowed for a drastic increase to the reach of the Clean Water Act (CWA), in part, by defining “waters of the United States” to include waters adjacent to waters that had traditionally been considered covered by the …

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Executive Order 13868 – the Push is on to Maximize Energy Production – Climate Change Impacts and the Local Environment – Nevermind.

On April 10, 2019, the Trump administration published Executive Order 13868, “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth,” which directs the EPA Administrator to, “consult with states, tribes, and relevant executive departments and agencies in reviewing section 401 of the Clean Water Act and EPA’s related regulations and guidance to determine whether any provisions thereof should be clarified to be consistent with the policies described in section two of this order.” The policy referred to in section two states, in relevant part:

It is the …

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Breaking: U.S. Supreme Court Will Weigh in on Clean Water Act Circuit Split, and EPA May Tip the Scale

Big news on the Clean Water Act (CWA). With the backdrop of a major circuit split (previously discussed here), the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Ninth Circuit case of County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The Supreme Court will now have to determine whether discharges of pollutants to surface waters via groundwater are regulated under the CWA.

In County of Maui, plaintiff-environmentalists alleged that the wastewater from a municipal wastewater treatment facility was seeping through the groundwater and ending …

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A Trade Off For Clean Water

On February 6, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its updated Water Quality Trading Policy (Updated Policy). The Updated Policy is an effort to respond to a growing environmental crisis — the over-enrichment of freshwater and coastal ecosystems with nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). Sources of nutrients include agriculture run-off, sewage treatment plants, and urban and suburban storm water. Reducing certain nutrients in water is one of the nation’s most challenging environmental issues.

At its most basic principle, “[w]ater quality trading … allows one …

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Battles Over Suspension of the Clean Water Rule Leave 23 States Under its Guidance

In the last year, we’ve reported several times on the implementation and interpretation of the Clean Water Rule. The 2015 Clean Water Rule, or Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, attempted to more clearly define which bodies of water fall under United States federal jurisdiction and are covered under the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). It expanded protection to some tributaries, streams, and wetlands that lead to the “navigable waters” traditionally protected under the CWA. Critics argue that in effect, the WOTUS rule greatly …

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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 fracturing, about half of the …

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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 navigable water such that …

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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 waters have caused officials in …

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