Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Tag Archives: Clean Water Act

Trump Track: Is Superfund Small Ball Best?

Posted in CERCLA, Trump Track
The most active agency in carrying out the Trump agenda in its first year has been the EPA, where there has been a raft of efforts to roll back the regulatory initiatives of the Obama Administration. However, in one area the agency has promised to take a more active approach, with Administrator Pruitt promising to… Continue Reading

The (much!) Higher Cost of Non-Compliance: Federal Civil Penalties Increase

Posted in EPA, Federal
EPA has released an interim final rule with penalty adjustments mandated by a new law (“Interim Rule” or “Rule”). Most importantly, the “catch up” adjustments under the Interim Rule carry quite a wallop for those subject to any of a wide variety of violations (rule available here). For example, the maximum daily penalty for violating… Continue Reading

Curiouser and Curiouser: Sixth Circuit Not Sure of Jurisdiction but Stays WOTUS Rule Anyway

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings, Water Law
Does this make sense to you?  Eighteen states petitioned the Sixth Circuit to challenge the new rule adopted by EPA and the Corps of Engineers defining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  Then the petitioners move the court to dismiss their own petition for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but at… Continue Reading

BP has settled its Clean Water Act penalty claims, but important questions remain to be decided

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Litigation
The United States and BP lodged their proposed settlement of the remaining claims by the US in connection with the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill with the US District Court today. Comments to the Justice Department are due by Friday, December 4, 2015.  The details of the proposed settlement, which includes the largest Clean Water Act… Continue Reading

Science Advisory Board Finally Weighs In on Waters of the U.S.

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings, Water Law
The Science Advisory Board has at last released its peer review  of EPA’s draft report on Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis, the technical support for the proposed rule on definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  The SAB paper is generally supportive of EPA’s… Continue Reading

Square Pegs in Round Holes

Posted in Federal, Natural Resources, Water Law
The Western states face two reciprocating and overarching problems in water resources policy.  First, water is an increasingly scarce resource facing sharply competitive needs.  Climate change is projected to put even more strain on water supplies.  Second, most streams listed as water-quality impaired in the West are designated as such for issues related to the… Continue Reading

Those Dam Polluters!

Posted in Electric Power, Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas, Water Law
The Columbia and Snake River federal network of dams, and the abundance of low cost electricity it produces, has long been the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest manufacturing economy.  It has also supported another industry—the legions of lawyers fighting over the environmental effects.  The latest iteration is an attack brought by Columbia Riverkeepers against the… Continue Reading

Logging Roads Get A Pass – At Least For Now

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Federal, Northwest, Water Law
Yesterday, in a 7-1 decision with Justice Scalia the lone dissenter, the U.S. Supreme Court handed a major victory to the forest products industry.  As it does so often, the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that had required Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for sediment laden stormwater that runs off of logging roads.  The… Continue Reading

First Oregon, Now Washington Water Quality Standards Under Attack

Posted in EPA, Northwest, Water Law
On February 26, in a reprise of its partially successful assault on Oregon water quality standards, Northwest Environmental Advocates sent a Notice of Intent to Sue EPA for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.  The alleged violations relate to EPA approval or inaction on water quality standards promulgated by the Washington… Continue Reading

Oregon Land Use Bills Aim to Limit Wetland Restoration

Posted in Land Use, Northwest, Water Law
Three Oregon legislators have introduced bills on behalf of the Oregon Farm Bureau requiring land use permits for wetland restoration on farmland. As noted in this article, the Farm Bureau believes that this legislation is necessary to prevent restoration activities from taking land out of agricultural production. House Bill 2173 and Senate Bill 338 would… Continue Reading

Jurisdictional Struggle Between EPA and State Regarding “Watershed Assessment” in Southcentral Alaska

Posted in EPA, Water Law
The federal Environmental Protection Agency is contending with the State of Alaska regarding the legal basis of an ongoing “watershed assessment” of the Bristol Bay area in Alaska.  According to the EPA, this assessment was launched in reaction to petitions filed by various groups asking EPA to halt the Pebble mining project.  Pebble is a… Continue Reading

Oregon Temperature Water Quality Standards Upheld (Sort of)

Posted in Northwest, Water Law
In a 50 page opinion issued February 28, Federal Magistrate Judge Acosta handed EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) a partial victory in Northwest Environmental Advocates v. EPA et al. The decision upheld EPA’s approval under the federal Clean Water Act of the Oregon DEQ’s numeric temperature water quality standards, while rejecting… Continue Reading

Preemptive Strike—404(c) Veto Authority Under the Clean Water Act

Posted in Federal, Water Law
The expectation of future development of a large copper-gold-molybdenum deposit in southwest Alaska has raised the possibility that the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) will exercise its authority to preemptively veto issuance of a Section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act. Concerned with potential impacts of large scale mining activity on the fisheries of Bristol… Continue Reading