The scope of suits available to private citizens under the Clean Water Act is not unlimited. A Federal District Court in Massachusetts recently made that clear in dismissing a citizen suit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation against the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which operates Boston’s Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant, the second largest treatment plant in the country. (Full disclosure: I represented the MWRA in that suit.) The Court rejected CLF’s claims that the MWRA was required to take enforcement action against every industrial user that discharged to the MWRA’s sewer system in violation of pretreatment regulations.… More
Tag Archives: Clean Water Act
More on the Reach of Sackett: Corps Jurisdictional Determinations Are Not Final Agency Action
Early last month, we noted that the decision in Luminant v. EPA suggested that the reach of the Supreme Court decision in Sackett is not unlimited. The Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit agrees. In Belle Company v. Corps of Engineers, the Court ruled that a Corps Jurisdictional Determination, or JD, is not final agency action subject to judicial review.… More
2 and 1/2 Strikes and the NGOs May Be Out: EPA Refuses to Exercise Residual Designation Authority
Stormwater regulation is a thorny issue. There is widespread agreement that nutrient run-off can be a significant problem, but little agreement on what to do about it, since stormwater infrastructure is normally managed by cash-strapped municipalities, but the most cost-effective approach will often not be to require thousands of individual properties owners to make large separate capital expenditures (though best management practices can certainly often provide significant benefit).
The NRDC,… More
Waters of the United States: Definitely a Regulation, Not Guidance
Last week, what appears to be a draft (so long that it is in two separate parts) of EPA’s proposed rule defining “waters of the United States” was widely circulated. Part of what I love about this story is that it is uncertain whether this is in fact the draft rule that EPA sent to OMB to review. On one hand, it has many of the hallmarks of an EPA proposed rule. … More
EPA Loses — Unanimously — In Sackett: How Broadly Does It Sweep?
For once, speculation about oral argument proved solid. The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling today in Sackett v. EPA means that EPA must allow judicial review of enforcement orders issued pursuant to its authority under the Clean Water Act. The question now is what the true scope of the decision will be. That question really has two parts.
The first is what will happen to CWA enforcement. On that score,… More
Deja Vu All Over Again: Time For Another Rant About Guidance
As readers of this blog know, the question of guidance v. regulation is one near and dear to my heart. I generally disfavor guidance, because I think it offers none of the protections of the regulatory process and almost none of the flexibility that guidance is supposed to provide. Two issues are of particular concern. First, guidance is not supposed to announce new rules – only clarifying interpretation of existing rules. However,… More
Bad Day at Black (Coal) Rock
Last week, I noted that Gina McCarthy, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, suggested that, in the short run, the most significant pressure on inefficient energy sources would come, not from climate change legislation or from EPA GHG regulations, but instead from all of the conventional pollutant regulations that EPA expects to promulgate that will make use of coal much more expensive. While Gina was referring to a variety of air regulations,… More
Be Careful What the EPA Administrator Wishes For: Is a Legislative Fix to Rapanos on the Horizon?
In an statement this week likely to send chills down the spine of developers, EPA Administrator Jackson called on Congress to provide a clearer definition of wetlands subject to permitting authority under the Clean Water Act. As most readers know, the 2006 Supreme Court decision in Rapanos v. United States narrowed the scope of regulatory jurisdiction over wetlands. Unfortunately, the absence of a majority decision in Rapanos means that,… More