Environmental -- 2016

American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA   (U.S. Supreme Court)

EPA micromanagement of state water discharges

The EPA has exerted control over land uses in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by dictating the minute details of what can be discharged into it and reserving to itself authority to approve any future changes necessary to allow for state and local adjustments to the mix of land uses within their jurisdictions. Congress neither envisioned nor authorized this expansion of EPA’s authority in the Clean Water Act.

This micromanagement upends the model Congress intended for the Clean Water Act. Local businesses throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed must now comply with a regulatory scheme that imposes new federal burdens on businesses and industry formerly regulated by the states, impedes state programs to address state water quality issues, and limits opportunities for growth and innovation. Allowing the EPA’s control to stand would provide the EPA nearly unchecked power over land use decisions affecting local businesses throughout the nation.

The NAM filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review an adverse decision from the Third Circuit that allows such micromanagement by the EPA. Our brief argued that this overreach is not authorized by the Clean Water Act because it makes individual permit holders responsible for excess effluents from others. It severely constrains companies with discharge permits and delays revisions and approvals, disfavoring innovation and growth and curtailing development.

On Feb. 29, the Court declined to review this appeal.

Related Documents:
NAM amicus brief  (December 9, 2015)


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