BREAKING: DOJ asks Supreme Court to decide whether polluting groundwater is legal under the Clean Water Act
The USEPA’s longstanding view that all pollutant discharges into groundwater were regulated under the CWA was suddenly reversed last year, as the agency took steps to redefine what waters should no longer be protected under the Act. On January 4th, the Dept. of Justice filed a Supreme Court brief (link the PDF brief here) to argue that point-source pollution that happens to spill into or migrate through groundwater should no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, and the associated polluters will not be held accountable under the Act. This non-scientific justification is comparable to the 19th Century belief that “Dilution is the Solution to Pollution”. Western New York State is also home to hundreds of brownfields and contaminated sites that still contain polluted groundwater that is known to be leaching into our waterways, including the Niagara River, which is a Class AA drinking water supply for nearly 1 million people. Redefining the applicability of CWA permitting to these sites will serve only to negatively impact regional natural resources and drinking water. BNW weighed in on this issue last May by submitting formal comment.