On Thursday, EPA extended the compliance deadline for its General Permit for Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems for one year, until July 1, 2018. The move almost certainly prompted a collective sigh of relief among both small municipalities directly subject to the rule and developers who would be indirectly impacted, as MS4s struggle to comply.
EPA gave several reasons for the delay:
- The MS4 permit had been challenged, both by those subject to it and by the Conservation Law Foundation.
- EPA is exploring whether it might be useful to take the litigation to some kind of alternative dispute resolution procedure.
- The delay will align the Massachusetts permit with a functionally identical MS4 permit issued for New Hampshire, which already has a July 1, 2018 compliance date.
There’s already been a lot of litigation over EPA’s delays in enforcing various Obama-era rules. However, I don’t really see this delay as of a piece with the others. While CLF may object to the delay, this one seems perfectly reasonable to me. Providing time for negotiations and aligning the Massachusetts compliance date with that in New Hampshire, where the New Hampshire MS4 permit is now also subject to litigation, just seems like good common sense.