Justices unveil new test on Clean Water Act’s scope

E & E News | April 23, 2020


The Supreme Court today found a middle ground in a dispute over whether a Hawaii county should have secured federal permits for a wastewater injection facility that released pollutants into groundwater that later reached the Pacific Ocean, ushering in a new test on the scope of the Clean Water Act.

Justices for the high court instructed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit its determination that Maui County’s Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility was subject to Clean Water Act permitting requirements because the pollution in the ocean was “fairly traceable” to the facility’s wells.

The court instead adopted a test that Justice Stephen Breyer floated during oral arguments in November 2019.

“The statutory provisions at issue require a permit when there is a direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters or when there is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge,” Breyer wrote in a 6-3 opinion today in the case County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund.

Original Post: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1062951361