Ashley Peck, an environmental partner based in the firm’s Salt Lake City office, was quoted in Law360’s April 17 article titled “EPA Flips Groundwater Stance Ahead Of High Court Case.” The article discusses the recent interpretive statement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluding that the Clean Water Act categorically does not require permits for groundwater pollution even if the contaminants end up in waters that are regulated, a position that is at odds with the more nuanced policies of prior administrations. This statement comes ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s closely watched case of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, which will consider whether CWA liability extends to facilities that discharge to surface waters via groundwater, an issue that has split circuit courts.
"At the same time, municipal and industrial facilities that discharge pollutants into groundwater can relax a bit, thanks to the EPA's clear position statement,” said Ashley Peck. “[I]f there isn't a clear line like the categorical exclusion now advanced by the EPA, there would be a gray area that citizen groups could use to test the courts.” Peck adds, "Because it's an interpretive statement of an agency charged with administering the Clean Water Act, it will certainly be looked at, and it will be given some deference by the court.”
Peck represents clients in complex environmental litigation and regulatory compliance matters, with an emphasis on water quality and contaminated sites. She has significant experience defending Clean Water Act citizen suits, helping clients navigate complex water discharge and wetland permitting processes, and defending civil and criminal enforcement actions brought under the Clean Water Act.
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