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Court Affirms Disclosure in NPDES Permitting Is Critical to Permit Shield

By Miranda Yost, Of Counsel, Troutman Sanders LLP

A recent Sixth Circuit decision, [enhanced version available to subscribers], on permit shield protection reinforces the importance of full disclosure to the permitting agency. The Sixth Circuit found a coal company was shielded from Clean Water Act liability for discharges exceeding state water quality standards by a state NPDES general permit. This is the latest decision in a series of cases where courts have wrestled with the scope of protection afforded by the CWA’s permit shield provision. See 33 U.S.C. § 1342(k), [enhanced version available to subscribers]. The decision stands in stark contrast to a recent Fourth Circuit decision (Appalachian Mt. Stewards v. A&G Coal Corp., 758 F.3d 560 (4th Cir. 2014)), [enhanced version available to subscribers], with the primary difference being what was disclosed to, and within the reasonable contemplation of, the state when it issued the permit. The recent Sixth Circuit decision can be found here: Sierra Club v. ICG Hazard, LLC, Case No. 13-5086, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 1283 (6th Cir. Jan. 27, 2015).

For more information on the current state of evolving permit shield protection, please contact Miranda Yost. Also, look out for an upcoming ABA article on this topic: The Clean Water Act Permit Shield—Recent Battles by Douglas A. Henderson, E. Fitzgerald Veira and Brooks M. Smith.

Read more at Environmental Law and Policy Monitor by Troutman Sanders LLP. 

© TROUTMAN SANDERS LLP. ADVERTISING MATERIAL. These materials are to inform you of developments that may affect your business and are not to be considered legal advice, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. Information on previous case results does not guarantee a similar future result. Follow Troutman Sanders on Twitter.


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