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Ouachita Riverkeeper, Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20019
Nos. 3:14-CV-4495-L, (N.D. Tex., 01/19/2016) (Lindsay, J.)

A district court held that environmental groups lacked standing to challenge EPA's decision not to object to a draft water discharge permit that Arkansas' environmental agency issued to a pulp and paper company under the state's CWA NPDES permit program. The groups sought an order declaring that the permit violates the CWA and remanding EPA's decision not to object for further consideration. But the groups failed to demonstrate that their alleged injuries are fairly traceable to EPA's decision not to object. The permit was issued by the state, not EPA, and EPA's decision not to object was not the cause of the alleged injuries. Rather, the state's subsequent decision to issue the permit was the cause. The groups also failed to show how their members' alleged injuries, if any, are likely to be redressed if the groups were to prevail in this lawsuit. The CWA specifies a 90-day window within which EPA may object, after which the state is free to issue the permit, which the state of Arkansas did in this instance. The groups have not provided the court with any authority under the CWA allowing or requiring EPA to object to a proposed permit more than four years after the final permit has been issued and gone into effect.