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Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center

Consolidated with:

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
11-338 9th Cir. Dec 3, 2012
Tr.Aud.
Mar 20, 2013 7-1 Kennedy OT 2012
 
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Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, serves as counsel to the respondent in this case.

Holding: A provision of the Clean Water Act governing challenges to Environmental Protection Agency actions, 33 U.S.C. § 1369(b), is not a jurisdictional bar to this suit, which alleges that the defendants had not obtained National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits before discharging stormwater runoff into two Oregon rivers. That provision is the exclusive vehicle for suits seeking to invalidate certain agency decisions, such as the establishment of effluent standards and the issuance of permits. It does not bar a district court from entertaining a citizen suit, like this one, under Section 1365 when the suit is against an alleged violator and seeks to enforce an obligation imposed by the Act or its regulations. Moreover, the EPA’s recent amendment to the Industrial Stormwater Rule does not make the cases moot.

Plain English Summary:

Judgment: Reversed, 7-1, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy on March 20, 2013. The Chief Justice filed a concurring opinion, which was joined by Justice Alito. Justice Scalia filed an opinion dissenting in part and concurring in part.

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CVSG Information

Invited: December 12, 2011

Filed: May 24, 2012 (Deny)

Briefs and Documents

Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, serves as counsel to the respondent in this case.   Holding: A provision of the Clean Water Act governing challenges to Environmental Protection Agency actions, 33 U.S.C. § 1369(b), is not a jurisdictional bar to this suit, which alleges that the defendants had not obtained National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits before discharging stormwater runoff into two Oregon rivers. That provision is the exclusive vehicle for suits seeking to invalidate certain agency decisions, such as the establishment of effluent standards and the issuance of permits. It does not bar a district court from entertaining a citizen suit, like this one, under Section 1365 when the suit is against an alleged violator and seeks to enforce an obligation imposed by the Act or its regulations. Moreover, the EPA’s recent amendment to the Industrial Stormwater Rule does not make the cases moot.   JudgmentReversed, 7-1, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy on March 20, 2013. The Chief Justice filed a concurring opinion, which was joined by Justice Alito. Justice Scalia filed an opinion dissenting in part and concurring in part.
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