08/05/2019 - Legal Analysis

Closing the Door on EPA Jurisdiction over Groundwater

by Caitlin McCoy

The Environmental Protection Agency’s interpretive statement on Clean Water Act (CWA) authority over groundwater is another installment in a series of actions where the agency has re-interpreted a federal environmental statute in order to limit its own regulatory authority. The statement, released in April, strips the agency of its authority to make certain discharges through groundwater subject to the Act’s permitting requirements. This short post analyzes the agency’s approach in light of longstanding agency practice, relevant case law, and the upcoming Supreme Court case, County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund.

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