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Ecological Rights Foundation v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20060
Nos. 10-0121, (N.D. Cal., 03/01/2013) (Seeborg, J.)

A district court dismissed CWA claims brought by an environmental group seeking to compel an electric company to obtain NPDES permits for its facilities. The group alleged that activities conducted at the facilities and the materials stored there contaminate stormwater discharged from the sites. While the group makes a tenable argument that the CWA and its implementing regulations should be read to require NPDES permits for these facilities, the record demonstrates that neither EPA nor the California Water Resources Board interprets the statute or regulations in such a fashion. In addition, the group's action has been brought as a citizen's suit to enforce the regulations, not to alter them or how the agencies apply them. Although a decision by the court that the company must apply for permits might have some persuasive effect on the regulators, they would not plainly be bound by it, not having participated in the action. Accordingly, because the group failed to show it has a viable claim under the citizen's suit provision of the CWA, the court granted the company's motion for summary judgment on the CWA claims.