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Louisiana Environmental Action Network v. City of Baton Rouge

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20093
Nos. No. 11-30549, (5th Cir., 04/17/2012)

The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded a lower court decision dismissing an environmental group's CWA action against a city for violations at its wastewater treatment plants. The lower court erred in ruling that a 2002 consent decree between the city and the U.S. government requiring the city to come into compliance by 2015 mooted the group's claims. The lawsuit was filed 8 years after the consent decree was entered, and no party has asserted any circumstances subsequent to the filing of the lawsuit that would render the case moot. In the alternative, the city argued that because it is still subject to the consent decree, the CWA's "diligent prosecution" provision precludes the group's action. The group countered that EPA is not diligently prosecuting the consent decree, noting the plants' ongoing, noncompliant discharges and EPA's failure to impose stipulated penalties for these violations. But the court took no position on their arguments and instead remanded the case for the lower court to determine whether the group's action is barred by the diligent prosecution provision.