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Gulf Restoration Network v. McCarthy

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20198
Nos. 12-77, (E.D. La. , 12/15/2016) (Zainey)

A district court upheld EPA’s refusal to determine whether new water quality standards were necessary to control nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the mainstem of the Mississippi River and the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The case arose after EPA denied environmental groups' petition to make such a necessity determination under CWA §303(c)(4). Below, the district court ordered EPA to make a necessity determination, but the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded. On remand, the district court held that EPA’s denial is sufficiently “grounded in the statute.” EPA’s denial was based on the Agency’s assessment that working in partnership with the states to reduce nutrient pollution would be a more effective approach than federal rulemaking. The Agency’s assessment is subject to the highly deferential and limited review that the appellate court described in its opinion. And EPA’s denial demonstrates that EPA did consider the text of both CWA §303 and the CWA as a whole when formulating its partnership strategy with the states.