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Water Policy Report - 02/04/2019

  • White House Weighs CWA 401 Revisions Despite States' Opposition

    White House officials are considering crafting an executive order that would narrow states' authority to review federally permitted pipelines and other projects under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 in an effort to boost energy development, despite widespread state opposition to any limits on their authority.

    662 words

  • Western States Fight Potential Trump Limits On CWA Section 401 Power

    Western state governors are fighting a potential Trump administration effort to narrow states' Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 authority to review federally permitted pipelines and other projects, amid reports that the White House is considering revising current EPA draft guidance on implementing the CWA to boost energy production.

    765 words

  • D.C. Circuit Blocks States' Bid To 'Indefinitely Delay' CWA Dam Certifications

    A federal appeals court in a new ruling says two states violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by delaying review of a dam decommissioning far beyond the law's one-year deadline to "certify" that a federal permit meets state requirements, a decision limiting states' future bids to "indefinitely delay federal licensing proceedings" for energy projects.

    707 words

  • EPA Faces New State Pressure To Tighten Assessment Of PFAS Risks

    EPA is facing pressure from states and water utilities to tighten its assessment of the risks posed by a pair of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) substances, known as GenX and PFBS, intensifying pressure on the agency to step up its oversight of the broad class of chemicals in part as a way to harmonize state standards.

    1189 words

  • New Hampshire Declines Call To Set SDWA Technology Standard For PFAS

    New Hampshire's top environment official is rejecting a request by environmentalists to set enforceable "treatment technique" standards for drinking water utilities to address the thousands of chemicals in the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) class, claiming it would contradict the state's statutory authority.

    1103 words

  • States Fear CWA Jurisdiction Rollback Undercuts Push For 404 Authority

    Trump administration plans to narrow the Obama-era standard for determining Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction might undercut some states' plans to assume CWA section 404 dredge-and-fill permitting authority, a top state water official says, because it would limit the waters subject to the law and reduce the incentive for new state permit programs.

    1399 words

  • EPA Opposes High Court Review Of CWA Section 404 Permit 'Objections'

    EPA is urging the Supreme Court to deny a Michigan road commission's petition seeking judicial review of federal "objections" to state-crafted Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 permit proposals, arguing even when the agency uses its power to move authority over a permit away from state regulators it is not "final agency action" subject to litigation.

    746 words

  • Mayors Urge Vigilance On EPA's Adoption Of CWA Integrated Planning Law

    Mayors who were instrumental in the push for the newly enacted law allowing municipal water utilities to address their Clean Water Act (CWA) wastewater and stormwater requirements on a pollution-reduction priority basis are cautioning their fight is not over and that cities must be vigilant to ensure EPA and states implement the law as intended.

    1336 words

  • Judges Doubt West Virginia POTW's Concerns On CWA Permit Copper Limit

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit appeared skeptical of a West Virginia wastewater treatment plant's push to revive a challenge to EPA's denial of a change to the state's copper water quality standard, with one of the judges saying the treatment plant's attorney was "tilting at windmills."

    575 words

  • Justices Defer Groundwater Suits, Extending Uncertainty For EPA Policy

    The Supreme Court took no action in its Jan. 22 orders on a pair of closely-watched Clean Water Act (CWA) suits testing liability for pollution that travels through groundwater to protected surface waters, deepening the uncertainty surrounding EPA's planned change in its policies governing such discharges.

    882 words

  • Supreme Court Urged To Scrap 'Egregiously Wrong' Deference To Agencies

    The Supreme Court is facing calls to end its long-standing precedent deferring to EPA and other agencies' interpretations of their own rules, with a critic's opening legal brief urging the justices to scrap the "egregiously wrong" precedent because it allows regulators to change rules on a whim without notice-and-comment rulemaking.

    911 words

  • EPA Appeals Decision Scrapping Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Rule Delay

    EPA will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to overturn a district judge's decision that scrapped a two-year delay on enforcing the Obama-era Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule, setting up a fresh round of litigation over that standard even as the agency is moving ahead with a new policy to replace the older version entirely.

    547 words

  • California Water Board Officials Delay Vote On 'Confusing' Wetlands Rules

    The California water board is delaying a vote scheduled for next month to approve a controversial new "wetlands" definition and new rules for discharging dredge and fill materials to state "waters" after agreeing with key stakeholder groups that many of the provisions are "confusing" and need additional clarity or even some changes in policy direction.

    1153 words

  • EPA Plan To Limit State Program Reviews Draws 'Disappointed' Response

    The Trump EPA has made easing federal oversight of state programs a top priority but its recent draft policy that seeks to limit agency scrutiny of state programs -- and even calls federal intervention a "last option" -- has some state officials "disappointed" because it continues to require permit-by-permit reviews.

    1456 words

  • Retired EPA Attorney Says Region 5 Chief Withheld NPDES Permit Criticism

    A retired EPA water attorney is asking the agency's inspector general (IG) to investigate allegations that Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp suppressed critical staff comments on a water permit for a controversial Minnesota mine, clearing the way for a permit that environmentalists and a member of Congress say is inadequate.

    981 words

  • Bipartisan Group Seeks To Address PFAS But Faces Industry, GOP Hurdles

    A group of House lawmakers Jan. 23 announced the formation of a bipartisan task force to push legislative, funding and other measures to pressure EPA and other agencies to clean up growing contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), though the group is likely to face pushback from industry and some Republicans.

    1194 words

  • Rep. Grace Napolitano To Head House Water & Environment Panel

    Longtime House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) member Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) is the new chair of the committee's Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over EPA's Clean Water Act programs and shared jurisdiction over the agency's hazardous waste cleanup and liability programs.

    386 words

  • EPA Lawyers Face Courts' Uneven Responses To Shutdown Delays

    EPA and other just-reopened agencies face a chaotic litigation landscape as they return from the weeks-long government shutdown in part because courts took an uneven approach in responding to government requests to delay lawsuits, including some that issued stays that will remain in effect for two weeks after the shutdown ended.

    1564 words

  • Waterkeeper Alliance Sues EPA Over Delays In Reviewing SDWA Rules

    Environmentalists have followed through on their threat to sue EPA over the agency's failure to meet statutory deadlines to review and revise existing drinking water standards for a dozen chemical and biological contaminants as well as its failure to develop new standards, charging the violations creates substantial risk of harm.

    654 words