Category Archives: Water

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New DOJ Guidance Seeks to Limit Federal Enforcement under the Clean Water Act

On July 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a policy memorandum designed to stay the federal government’s hand in enforcing the Clean Water Act where states have initiated a civil judicial penalty proceeding under analogous state laws on the same core of operative facts. The policy, “Civil Enforcement Discretion in Certain Clean … Continue Reading

Navigability: It’s Not Just for the Federal Clean Water Act Anymore

A curious appellate court decision has Pennsylvania environmental law practitioners scratching their heads about the status of certain waterways. No, we do not reference the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest Clean Water Act decision in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, __ U.S. __ (2020) from May, where six of the nine justices held … Continue Reading

Federal Judge in Montana Narrows Vacatur of Nationwide Permit 12

On April 17, we posted about the federal district court for Montana vacating the Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 and enjoining the Army Corps of Engineers’ authorization for the use of NWP 12 on any utility projects in the nation (including pipelines, transmission lines and communications lines) on the grounds that the Corps had not complied … Continue Reading

Supreme Court: Pollutants Reaching Navigable Waters Through Groundwater May Require Permit Under Clean Water Act

Rejecting the Trump administration’s novel 2019 interpretation that the Clean Water Act never requires permits for pollutant discharges to groundwater, the United States Supreme Court handed down, on April 23, its eagerly awaited decision in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. The 6-3 majority held that Section 301 of the Clean … Continue Reading

Federal Judge Prohibits Use of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permit 12 for Utility and Pipeline Projects

In an April 15 ruling in Northern Plains Resource Council, et al. v. Army Corps of Engineers, Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit 12 and enjoined the Corps from using NWP 12 to authorize any dredge … Continue Reading

PFAS Update: EPA Begins Process of Developing Drinking Water Limits for PFOS and PFOA

On Feb. 20, 2020, roughly one year after announcing its comprehensive per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) action plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a preliminary regulatory determination under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the two most-studied of the chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This is the initial step in the process of … Continue Reading

Congress Takes Initial Steps to Address PFAS in the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

On Dec. 11, the House of Representatives passed S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Senate followed suit on Dec. 17, bringing an end to protracted negotiations on this annual must-pass legislation. In one of their final acts, conferees agreed to provisions addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Two major provisions … Continue Reading

Mexico’s National Water Law – The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit Authorizes the Payment of Government Fees to Avoid Reduction or Cancellation of Authorized Water Volumes

On October 9, 2019, Mexico’s Deputy Ministry of Revenue (Subsecretaría de Ingresos) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, “SHCP”) published the Official Letter number 349-B-521 (the “Official Letter”) on the Federal Official Gazette (Diario Oficial de la Federación). Pursuant to applicable Mexican regulations, a water concession title … Continue Reading

After Flint, EPA’s New Lead Rule Proposal May Not Satisfy Critics

In the wake of the drinking water crises in Flint, Michigan and elsewhere, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule on Oct. 10, 2019, that would impose new lead requirements on drinking water systems. If finalized, the new rule would mark the first change to the lead and copper rule (LCR) since 1991. … Continue Reading

Government Repeals Obama-Era Waters of the U.S. Rule: Major Supreme Court Decision to Come, but ‘Regulatory Patchwork’ Remains

On Sept. 12, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army followed through on an early Trump administration promise to repeal a 2015 jurisdictional rule defining the scope of the government’s authority under the Clean Water Act. See Definition of “Waters of the United States”—Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules (pre-publication version). Dubbed … Continue Reading

Maryland Court of Appeals Limits Bases for Challenging CWA Permits under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL

A recent state appellate court decision sharply limited the bases on which Clean Water Act permittees may challenge permitting requirements imposed to comply with a federal Chesapeake Bay “Total Maximum Daily Load” (“TMDL”), often described as a watershed-wide “pollution diet.” The decision directly impacts municipalities with separate stormwater sewer (“MS4”) permits, as well as certain … Continue Reading

PFAS Solution Moving Through Congress on Must-Pass Defense Bill

PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been under scrutiny on both sides of the Capitol in recent months, and the Senate made significant headway in late June in reaching consensus on PFAS legislation. Following two hearings in the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee this spring, a package was unveiled and quickly considered in … Continue Reading

Today is World Oceans Day – Here Are Five Things Business Owners Need to Know About Sea Level Rise

With today being World Oceans Day, the future of our oceans and the effects of sea level rise are on our mind. Greenberg Traurig’s Kerri L. Barsh, co-chair of the Environmental Practice, recently published an article in South Florida Legal Guide Monthly titled “Five Things That Business Owners Need to Know About Sea Level Rise.” … Continue Reading

Contradicting the Department of Justice, EPA Changes Stance on Groundwater Discharges

Contradicting the argument raised by the United States in a recent amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the EPA finalized new guidance on April 12, 2019, concluding that the Clean Water Act “is best read as excluding all releases of pollutants from a point source to groundwater from NPDES … Continue Reading

A Busy Time for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – More PFAS Action and NRD Lawsuits

On April 1, 2019, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) proposed drinking water standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) that are significantly more stringent than the federal health advisory of 70 ppt. DEP proposed a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 14 ppt for PFOA and 13 ppt for PFOS. PFOA and … Continue Reading

In Honor of World Water Day…

March 22 is World Water Day! In honor of this day, here is a roundup of GT’s recent water-related insights: EPA Announces “Most Comprehensive Cross-Agency Action Plan for a Chemical of Concern” in History of EPA for PFAS New York to Propose Stringent Drinking Water Standards EPA’s New WOTUS Rule Recent Opinions Hold Differing Views … Continue Reading

EPA Announces “Most Comprehensive Cross-Agency Action Plan for a Chemical of Concern” in History of EPA for PFAS

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced from Region 3 in Philadelphia, what EPA is describing as the most comprehensive cross-agency action plan for a chemical of concern in the history of EPA – the Action Plan for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The PFAS Action Plan has five primary components: … Continue Reading

Significant Environmental Cases in Pa. Courts During 2018 (Part 1)

The Pennsylvania appellate courts decided a relatively large number of environmental cases during 2018. This survey briefly characterizes those cases under the following categories: Environmental Rights Amendment; pre-emption of local regulation; other local land use regulation issues; Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537); and stormwater, earth disturbance, and stream encroachment. Read David G. Mandelbaum’s 42 Pa. … Continue Reading

New York to Propose Stringent Drinking Water Standards

On Dec. 18, 2018, the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council, in consultation with the Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, recommended drinking water standards for three so-called “emerging contaminants” – 1,4-Dioxane, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). The recommended “maximum contaminant levels” or “MCLs” are one part per billion (ppb) for 1,4-Dioxane, … Continue Reading

EPA’s New WOTUS Rule

On Dec. 11, 2018, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Agencies) released a proposal to revise the regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), as found in the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposal represents another chapter in the long-running debate over the scope of federal authority. The CWA … Continue Reading

Environmental Aspects of the United States-Mexico-Canada Commercial Agreement (USMCA)

The recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), claims to modernize and reinforce obligations regarding environmental matters that were previously covered in NAFTA and by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). This GT Alert summarizes some of the most important environmental aspects established by Chapter 24 of the … Continue Reading

Florida Appellate Court Reverses Class Certification in Commercial Fishing Action Arising From a 65-Million-Gallon Process Water Release Into Tampa Bay

In the summer of 2004, during Hurricane Frances, an industrial facility released approximately 65 million gallons of process water into Tampa Bay. A group of commercial fishermen promptly filed a putative class action. The class representatives alleged that the release damaged the natural habitat and adversely affected commercial fishing in and around Tampa Bay. At … Continue Reading

Recent Opinions Hold Differing Views on Point Source Discharges Into Waters

Kathleen Kline authored an article in The Legal Intelligencer titled “Recent Opinions Hold Differing Views on Point Source Discharges Into Waters.” The article explores two recent opinions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding the growing cacophony over Clean Water Act jurisdiction, both holding that the act does not regulate pollution that reaches surface … Continue Reading

It’s the Law: Don’t Sell Your Homebrew!

Homebrewing and drinking craft beer are both widely popular. Currently, there are more than 6,000 craft breweries in the U.S., and over 2,000 homebrew clubs. As brewing for fun and profit has become more widespread, the applicable legal framework has also developed – and compliance is just as important for hobbyists as for professionals. At … Continue Reading
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