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Northwest Environmental Advocates v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20061
Nos. 3:05-cv-01876-AC,, (D. Or., 02/28/2012) (Acosta, J.)

A district court held that EPA violated the CWA when it failed to review Oregon's nonpoint source rules. The nonpoint source provisions create exemptions for many sources of pollution in Oregon's waters, including agriculture, forestry, and grazing. EPA claimed that the regulations at issue were not subject to review because they are not water quality standards but instead define what nonpoint sources must do to comply with Oregon's water quality standards; they merely address how the water quality standards are to be implemented with respect to nonpoint sources. But while the challenged provisions may not meet the EPA's definition of "water quality standards," they clearly have the potential to interfere with the attainment of water quality standards by effectively supplanting those standards as they apply to nonpoint sources. Just as the CWA demands that EPA review new or revised water quality standards, it must also require a review of new or revised regulations that affect whether and how those standards are applied. In addition, EPA has the authority to review the regulations. In addition, the FWS and NMFS violated the ESA in failing to assess the specific impacts of EPA's approval of Oregon's water quality standards on each individual fish species and its critical habitat.