May 21, 2022

Volume XII, Number 141

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May 20, 2022

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May 19, 2022

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EPA's Stormwater General Permit is Safe. Does it Matter?

A Colorado-based NGO has dropped its 9th Circuit lawsuit challenging EPA's Multi-Sector General Permit for stormwater discharges associated with industrial facilities.

On one hand, this is a victory for EPA which apparently offered nothing to settle the case before the NGO threw up its hands.

On the other hand, the General Permit is only applicable in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Mexico, the three states that have not been delegated the authority to issue such a permit (as well as tribal lands and other lands not subject to state jurisdiction).

Why did the NGO bring this suit to begin with?  Did it hope that the Biden Administration EPA would, when push came to shove, do something dramatically different than the Trump Administration EPA?

Whatever the reason, the NGO has apparently concluded that the current law and permit give it plenty of grounds to bring suits over stormwater discharges in the 9th Circuit and elsewhere.  There are already several such imaginative suits pending on the west coast.

Are the regulators in Massachusetts less able to issue and enforce stormwater permits than than their colleagues in 47 other states?  The answer is of course not.  They are completely able and more able than most.  And they already have authority under state laws and regulations that are broader in their reach than the federal law.

But the Massachusetts legislature has stood in the way, apparently because it doesn't want to bear the costs of regulating in this area borne by 47 other states.  Uncertainty and the threat, if not the actuality, of litigation has been the unfortunate result of this dereliction for the regulated community, including the municipalities in which we live.

We deserve better.

"The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is dropping its legal challenge to EPA’s industrial stormwater general permit that sought stricter regulation of plastics pollution after settlement discussions were unfruitful, according to an attorney familiar with the litigation."

©1994-2022 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 354
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About this Author

Jeffrey R. Porter, Environmental Attorney, Mintz Levin, Risk Analysis Lawyer
Member

Jeff leads the firm’s Environmental Law Practice. He is also a member of the firm’s Policy Committee. For 23 years, he has advised clients regarding complex environmental regulatory compliance and permitting issues, including issues relating to air and water discharges and hazardous waste storage and disposal. In 2011 and 2012, the firm received the Acquisition International Legal Award for “US Environmental Law Firm of the Year.” The awards celebrate excellence and reward firms, teams and individuals for their contribution to client service, innovation and commitment to quality.

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617-348-1711
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