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Volume 26, Issue 6 — June 1996


Recent Developments in Federal Wetlands Law: Part I

by Margaret N. Strand

Editors' Summary: This Article is the first in a series intended to supplement Federal Wetlands Law, a primer that ELR published in 1993 and subsequently incorporated into the Wetlands Deskbook. The Article, which refers to the primer but stands on its own, focuses primarily on where wetlands law has changed since publication of the primer. The Article first provides an update of legislative and executive branch developments in wetlands law and policy. Next, it discusses the jurisdiction of Clean Water Act §404, including wetlands-delineation issues and the controversy over isolated wetlands and groundwater. Finally, the Article covers regulated and exempted activities under §404, including agricultural activities. Relevant judicial developments are discussed throughout.

Combined Sewer Overflows and Sanitary Sewer Overflows: EPA's Regulatory Approach and Policy Under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act

by Kevin B. Smith

Editors' Summary: Combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overlows present unique problems for regulators. Although these problems were largely ignored until recently, EPA has finally begun to address the significant environmental and public health hazards these pollution sources pose. The author first provides a brief overview of the problems of combined and sanitary sewer overflows and the basis for their regulation under the FWPCA. He next discusses EPA's policy and guidance efforts to date, including the relevant documents' specific requirements and the concerns that shaped them. Finally, he presents some thoughts on the direction future regulaton of combined and sanitary sewer overflows should take.


HWIR: A New Era in Hazardous Waste Management?

by Philip S. Comella

The history of hazardous waste management divides into two eras: the cradle-to-grave era (beginning in 1980)1 and the land disposal restrictions (LDR) era (beginning in 1986).2 Since the decision in Shell Oil Co. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,3 however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has struggled to establish the foundation for what may be a new era. In this era, EPA must redefine hazardous wastes, limit the expansive reach of the mixture and derived-from rules, and no longer require treatment for the sake of treatment.

On December 21, 1995, EPA released its latest attempt to restructure the hazardous waste management program within the boundaries of its existing statutory authority—the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).4 EPA proposed the Hazardous Waste Identification Rule (HWIR),5 which would create a risk-based system to give hazardous waste generators and other regulated entities a number of options for exiting much of the hazardous waste management program. The availability of relief for specific generators would depend on the type and concentration of hazardous constituents in their waste and on the disposal methods used.