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Water Policy Report - 04/16/2018

  • Pruitt CWA Memo Spurs Critics' Fear Of Imminent Narrow Jurisdiction Rule

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's recent memo centralizing some Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdictional findings is spurring agency critics' fears that it is a prelude to imminent issuance of a proposed new narrower policy on the CWA's scope, which an environmentalist says could come this month instead of an earlier predicted "summer" release.

    1225 words

  • EPA, Corps Ready 'Supplemental Proposal' To Boost Repeal Of CWA Rule

    EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have sent for White House review a "supplemental proposal" to boost their pending repeal of the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule that will seek a new round of input on scrapping and replacing the rule, an unexpected step that could potentially delay any final rule on the CWA standard.

    898 words

  • Judge Rejects CWA Rule Delay Case Transfer, Teeing Up Parallel Rulings

    A federal district judge in South Carolina has rejected EPA and industry groups' bid to transfer a pending challenge to the two-year delay on enforcing the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, setting the stage for potential parallel rulings on the merits of the delay that could ultimately require the Supreme Court to resolve.

    546 words

  • Corps Defends Legality Of Updates To CWA Manual For Delineating Wetlands

    The Army Corps of Engineers is defending its use of regional supplements to update its 1987 Clean Water Act (CWA) wetlands delineation manual, urging a federal appeals court to reject an Alaska land-holding company's claim that the updates are unlawful and should have been made through a formal notice-and-comment process.

    1114 words

  • Environmentalists' FOIA Suit Seeks Records Of EPA CWA Rule Meetings

    Environmentalists are suing EPA in bid to win release of records about the agency's development of a new Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction standard, hoping to secure information about Administrator Scott Pruitt's "roundtable" discussions on the forthcoming rule that could support lawsuits aimed at blocking any narrow interpretation of the law.

    453 words

  • NRDC Urges EPA To Craft Perchlorate Limit After Review Backs Model

    Environmentalists are renewing their calls for EPA to craft a drinking water standard for the rocket fuel ingredient perchlorate after a peer review panel found that the latest version of the agency's model to inform development of a health goal for the substance is "fit for purpose."

    911 words

  • Farm Bill's Drinking Water Provisions Praised But Land Protections Faulted

    The House Agriculture Committee's newly introduced Farm Bill is drawing praise from drinking water utilities for the bill's emphasis on protecting source waters, but sustainable farming advocates are blasting the bill for its reduction in conservation funding and the elimination of a program intended to encourage advanced conservation practices.

    929 words

  • EPA Grants First-Ever Request For State 'Primacy' Over CCS Permit Program

    EPA has granted North Dakota's first-in-the-nation request for "primacy" to issue Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) permits for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) wells, offering a win for the state and CCS developers while creating a potential precedent for how other states craft similar permit programs.

    1012 words

  • States, EPA Prioritize NPDES Permits, Cleanups In Talks On Faster Reviews

    State regulators are urging EPA to examine its regions' processes for reviewing certain state wastewater permits and hazardous waste cleanups as priority areas for states and EPA officials' ongoing discussions on speeding federal reviews of state decisions.

    1584 words

  • Judges Signal Suit Over EPA CWA Permit Discretion May Hinge On Process

    Appellate judges are signaling that a Massachusetts city's suit aiming to limit EPA's discretion on how it sets Clean Water Act (CWA) wastewater permits could hinge on procedural questions rather than studies the city claims prove an agency-issued permit is too strict, after the judges declined to send the case to mediation following oral argument.

    999 words

  • Wastewater Groups Aim To Reopen Suit Over Clean Water Act Test Method

    California wastewater agencies are again asking a federal district court to block state permit-writers' use of an EPA-crafted Clean Water Act (CWA) test method they oppose, in new a bid to win a decision setting a federal precedent despite the court's March ruling that said the claims either were time-barred or should have been filed at the state level.

    649 words

  • Faulting EPA 'Maneuvering,' Judge Orders Quick Decision On Erie Impairment

    A federal judge is giving EPA until May 15 to make a final decision on Ohio's 2016 list of impaired waters that fails to include the open waters of Lake Erie, finding that the agency's "legal maneuvering" has prevented him from ruling on environmentalists' suit that seeks to force the agency to reject the list and declare the lake's open waters impaired.

    1361 words

  • 8th Circuit Ruling Allows Missouri City To Challenge EPA TMDL Approval

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has ruled a district court erred in finding a Missouri city lacked standing to challenge EPA's approval of a waterbody cleanup plan and instructs the lower court to consider additional arguments EPA raised in its defense that the district court did not initially address.

    591 words

  • Rejecting EPA, Court Renews Strict Statutory Approach For Setting TMDLs

    A federal court has vacated and remanded to EPA a trash cleanup plan for the Anacostia River in Maryland and the District of Columbia, reiterating past approaches that adopted a strict statutory interpretation of the Clean Water Act's (CWA) requirement for how regulators develop the cleanup plans, known as total maximum daily loads (TMDLs).

    1320 words

  • 4th Circuit's CWA Groundwater Ruling Hurts Utilities' Defense In Ash Suits

    A new ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit embraces environmentalists' argument that the Clean Water Act (CWA) limits pollution that travels through groundwater to surface waters as long as it originates with a "point source," dealing a blow to the power sector's defenses against similar suits pending over leaking coal ash sites.

    1166 words

  • 9th Circuit Denies Rehearing In Clean Water Act Groundwater Lawsuit

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has refused to rehear the Clean Water Act (CWA) suit that produced a novel ruling holding the county of Maui, HI, liable for wastewater injections into groundwater because the pollution ultimately traveled to the Pacific Ocean, teeing up a potential petition for the Supreme Court to review the case.

    659 words

  • As Trump Backs Pruitt, Opponents Question His Deregulatory Effectiveness

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's job seems safe for now, after President Donald Trump strongly came to his defense recently, largely dismissing ethical concerns in favor of his "bold actions at EPA," but others are questioning just how effective Pruitt -- often called one of Trump's most accomplished Cabinet members -- has actually been.

    1661 words

  • EPA IG Launches Latest In Series Of Probes Into Pruitt Ethics Scandals

    EPA's Inspector General (IG) has launched a new probe into the employment history of a former top aide to Administrator Scott Pruitt, the latest in a series of investigations or possible inquiries in response to the growing ethics scandals plaguing the administrator.

    1144 words

  • Pipeline Company Emphasizes Security Concerns In Supreme Court Bid

    A natural gas pipeline company is emphasizing to the Supreme Court the national security risks and threats to cooperative federalism if an appellate court ruling upholding New York's denial of a Clean Water Act (CWA) certification for a proposed pipeline is allowed to stand, attempting to refute the state's arguments that the case lacks compelling reasons for review.

    596 words

  • Critics Of Trump '2-For-1' Rule Order Cite Harm From Agency Policy Delays

    Critics of President Donald Trump's executive order (EO) forcing EPA and other agencies to identify two existing rules for repeal for every new rule they issue are adding to their district court complaint over the EO, citing alleged harm from several agencies' delayed rulemaking efforts that the plaintiffs argue are a direct result of the order.

    981 words

  • OMB Reviewing Plan To Establish 'Consistency' On EPA Cost Calculations

    EPA has sent the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a draft measure to "increase the consistency and transparency" across its offices of how the costs of its rules are evaluated, an effort that is renewing fears that the Trump administration may seek to play up rules' costs and downplay their benefits.

    459 words

  • Agencies Sign MOU To Streamline NEPA Reviews For Infrastructure Projects

    The White House has released a long-awaited memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by EPA and 11 other agencies that seeks to limit National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews to two years and to assign a "lead agency" to each review in order to give it greater authority than in the past to direct the analysis.

    825 words

  • EPA Prioritizes Lead Risk Reduction For Next WIFIA Round Projects

    EPA is prioritizing infrastructure projects that reduce exposure to lead and other contaminants in drinking water systems, as well as updating the nation's aging infrastructure, in its next round of loans and loan guarantees through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.

    618 words

  • EPA Finds Big Increase In Drinking Water Infrastructure Investment Needs

    EPA's latest estimate of needed drinking water infrastructure investments over the next 20 years is $472.6 billion, an increase of $44 billion from the agency's assessment four years ago, with the agency saying almost 90 percent of the funds are associated with aging infrastructure with the remainder due to regulatory compliance.

    641 words

  • EPA Cites Dozens Of Past Rule Delays To Justify Postponing RMP Update

    EPA is touting a list of more than two dozen federal rules from 1983 to 2013 in which agencies have delayed existing regulations while weighing revisions to those policies, in response to an appellate court order to provide the list in a suit testing EPA's delay of an Obama-era facility safety rule while the agency reconsiders the regulation.

    655 words

  • Environmentalists Seek Ruling In Suit Over EPA Nonpoint Grant Funds

    Environmentalists are asking a federal district court judge to order EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to withhold certain grant funds to Washington state intended to control pollution from runoff until the agencies approve the state's program to limit coastal runoff, as well as set aside grants made from 2011 to 2017.

    469 words

  • Judicial Panel Consolidates Gold King Mine Spill Suits In District Court

    The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has consolidated all litigation over the 2015 Gold King Mine wastewater spill by combining four currently pending cases dealing with the disaster in the same New Mexico federal district court, as well as any potential future suits such as tort claims against EPA for its role in the spill.

    554 words

  • Citgo Asks 5th Circuit To Rehear Clean Water Act Oil Spill Penalties Ruling

    Citgo is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to rehear the court's ruling that upheld a lower court decision imposing an $81 million Clean Water Act (CWA) penalty on the company for a 2006 spill from the oil giant's Lake Charles, LA, refinery complex, as Citgo seeks to win a new legal precedent on how to assess penalties for spills.

    531 words