• Courts Continue to Defer to the Environmental Protection Agency in Its Interpretation of the Clean Water Act
  • May 3, 2017 | Author: Richard E. Stultz
  • Law Firm: Morris Polich & Purdy LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently reversed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York which had found the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2008 “Water Transfers Rule” was invalid under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 846 F.3d 492 (2d Cir. 2017). Several environmental groups, a number of states, an Indian tribe and a Canadian province sued the EPA alleging that transfer of water through a series of reservoirs, tunnels and creeks from the Catskill Mountains to consumers in New York City required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. In reversing the district court, the Second Circuit court held that: (1) the CWA did not clearly and unambiguously speak to the question of whether NPDES permits were required for water transfers; (2) EPA’s adoption of the Water Transfers Rule was not arbitrary and capricious; and (3) the Water Transfers Rule was based on a reasonable interpretation of the CWA.