Clean Water Act

The EPA Sets in Motion its Plan to Rescind the Waters of the United States Rule

This Action is Just the First Step Towards Reducing Clean Water Act Protection for Many Waterways and Wetlands

With much fanfare, the Trump administration announced last Tuesday that it is proposing to rescind the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule.  This rule is intended to govern determinations of which waterbodies and wetlands are “waters of the United States,” protected under the Clean Water Act.  The …

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A Coalition of the Willing

States need to work together to make progress happen in the age of Trump.

In the short time since the election, it’s already become a truism that state governments will have to keep the flame alive for environmental protection. But it’s not just individual state governments. It’s also crucial for states to work together. There’s been a lot of loose talk about “Calexit” out here. Secession is unconstitutional. (As …

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The California Supreme Court’s Top Environmental Law Decisions of 2016

CEQA, Property Rights, Preemption & Clean Water Act Highlight Supreme Court’s Environmental Docket

While 2016 was a quiet year for the U.S. Supreme Court when it came to environmental law, the same cannot be said for the California Supreme Court.  To the contrary, 2016 continued a pronounced and significant trend by the California Supreme Court justices in recent years to hear and decide numerous important environmental law issues …

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The Clean Water Act, Federalism, Big Money and the California Supreme Court

Ill-considered Supreme Court Decision Threatens California’s Administration of Clean Water Act Permit Program

The California Supreme Court recently issued a little-noticed decision on a seemingly arcane state public finance issue that could well wind up having a dramatic, negative effect on California’s continued ability to administer the federal Clean Water Act’s permit program in the Golden State. The case is Department of Finance v. Commission on State Mandates.  In …

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Of Pipelines, Protests, and General Permits

A fight in North Dakota reveals problems in how we permit and review large infrastructure projects

Native American tribes and environmental groups are currently protesting the completion of an oil pipeline in North Dakota.  The pipeline would travel beneath the Missouri River.  Tribes and environmentalists are fighting the pipeline both through litigation and also through direct action (occupying the site where the construction to complete the pipeline beneath the river would …

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Strong Regs, Spotty Enforcement

Environmental enforcement could use a big boost.

The political debate over regulation tends to focus on the regulations themselves. But enforcing the regulations is just as important. Despite what you might think from the howls of business groups and conservative commentators, the enforcement system is not nearly as strong as it should be. Twenty years after passage of the Clean Water Act, roughly …

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Supreme Court Deals Obama Administration Blow in Clean Water Act Case

Supreme Court allows lawsuits early in Clean Water Act permitting process, as Justice Kennedy ominously questions the Act’s reach

The Supreme Court today dealt another blow to the Obama administration in a Clean Water Act case. The Court’s unanimous opinion in United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., No. 15-290, addressed the finality of an Army Corps “approved jurisdictional determination” (JD) on whether a particular parcel of property contains “waters of the …

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Of sewage spills and citizen suits

New Berkeley Law report examines citizen actions addressing sanitary sewer overflows in California

(This post is co-authored with Nell Green Nylen and Michael Kiparsky.) Every day, Californians produce millions of gallons of wastewater. We tend to avoid thinking about what flows down our drains, but how we deal with sewage is a critically important aspect of public and environmental health. Most communities in California rely on an extensive …

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The Next Justice and the Fate of the Clean Water Act

A comment by Justice Kennedy reminds us of just how much is at stake.

Every once in a while, we get reminded of just how much damage the conservative Justices could wreak on environmental law. Last week, Justice Kennedy created shock waves with a casual comment during oral argument. In a case that seemed to involved only a technical issue about administrative procedure, he dropped the suggestion that the …

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Could a Riparian Conservation Network increase the ecological resilience of public lands?

A new article suggests river corridors could leverage existing policies to build habitat connectivity

As we try to protect biological diversity for the future, a perpetual challenge is ensuring that the strategies we adopt today will continue to work in the face of changing conditions. How can we design conservation approaches that will be resilient in the face of environmental challenges that will only become more severe in coming years? …

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