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This Month's News & Analysis

Volume 45, Issue 3 — March 2015

Dialogue

Key Issues in Setting Water Quality Standards

by Fred Andes, Allyn Stern, Dianne Barton, Jennifer Wigal, and Michael Campbell

When setting water quality standards (WQS) for surface water, every state in the nation is faced with the question of “how clean is clean enough?” The standard set by the state is important to citizens, who rely upon a high level of water quality, as well as municipal and industrial wastewater dischargers who must comply with permit limits that take WQS into account. An issue receiving increasing attention is the health risk to persons who eat relatively large amounts of fish and shellfish that may be contaminated with toxic substances. Three states in the Pacific Northwest—Idaho, Oregon, and Washington—are leading the way in considering whether to base their WQS on higher rates of fish consumption, resulting in more stringent standards. On September 16, 2014, the Environmental Law Institute convened an expert panel to answer questions such as: What are the key issues in setting WQS? How does a state calculate the amount of fish its citizens eat? What are the relative roles of EPA, states, the public, and industry in ensuring that state WQS are protective of all populations? What will happen to industry discharge permits as a result of new WQS? In this Dialogue, we present a transcript of the event, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Articles

Next Generation Compliance

by Cynthia Giles

This Article is adapted from Chapter One of Next Generation Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (LeRoy C. Paddock and Jessica A. Wentz eds.) published in 2014 by ELI Press. The book emerged from a two-day EPA workshop covering a broad array of topics, ranging from general comparisons of different compliance approaches to focused case studies of regulatory programs. This Article defines “next generation compliance” and outlines its five key elements: rules with compliance built in; advanced pollution monitoring technologies; electronic reporting systems; increased transparency; and innovative enforcement strategies.

An Environmental Understanding of the Local Land Use System.

by John R. Nolon

This Article is adapted from Chapter Three of John R. Nolon, Protecting the Environment Through Land Use Law: Standing Ground, published in 2014 by ELI Press. The book updates and expands on the author’s previous work, describing in detail how localities are responding to new challenges, including the imperative that they adapt to and help mitigate climate change and create sustainable neighborhoods. This Article outlines a comprehensive framework for understanding how traditional local land use authority can be used to preserve natural resources and environmental functions at the community level.

Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice

by Barry E. Hill

This Article is adapted from Barry E. Hill, Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice (3d ed. 2014), published by ELI Press. This textbook/handbook explores how environmental justice concerns are framed, addressed, and resolved in the United States through acts of civil disobedience; federal, state, and local government initiatives; litigation and alternative dispute resolution; and/or mediation. The Article describes the relationship between environmental justice and sustainable development, and surveys the history of the environmental justice movement.

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In the Courts

District court classifies manure as solid waste under RCRA.

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In the Courts Archive

In the Agencies

EPA proposes new rules for oil spill dispersants.

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In the Agencies Archive

In the Congress

Law exempts external power supplies from efficiency standards.

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In the Congress Archive

In the States

California proposes time line for lead ammunition phaseout.

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In the States Archive