Breaking: Supreme Court takes up Clean Water Act Case
The below excerpt from Scotusblog can be found HERE.
The Clean Water Act bars the discharge of any pollutant into “navigable waters” without a permit. In its lone grant on today’s order list, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a violation of the CWA occurs only when a pollutant is released directly into navigable waters, or whether it is enough that the pollutant is released indirectly.
The question arises in a case from Hawaii, where Maui County owns a wastewater-treatment plant that processes four million gallons of sewage each day. The plant injects the treated wastewater through wells into the groundwater; some of that groundwater eventually enters the Pacific Ocean.
Hawaii Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups filed a lawsuit, claiming that the county was violating the Clean Water Act because it did not have a permit to discharge pollutants into the ocean. A federal district court agreed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld that ruling. The court of appeals rejected the county’s argument that, for purposes of the Clean Water Act, there is a “discharge” only when pollutants are released directly into navigable waters.
The county asked the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit decision, and on December 3 the justices asked the U.S. solicitor general to weigh in – and, in an unusual step, set a deadline of January 4, 2019, for the government to do so. The justices did not act on the case before their winter recess, but today they announced that they would review the case, presumably in October.