United States: Another case of Maui in the mountains
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Last week, another NGO lodged a complaint against another operator of a wastewater treatment plant, this one in the mountains of Montana, complaining of an “excess” of nitrogen in the treated effluent from the wastewater treatment plant. purification which, according to the NGO, is heading towards the Gallatin river.
We cannot tell from the NGO’s complaint what it considers an “excess” of nitrogen, but whether this NGO is like the many other citizen complainants who have filed these complaints across the country since the Obama administration’s attempt of the EPA to determine the scope of the Clean Water Act, “excess” means detectable in a lab (even though up to 10 parts per million nitrogen is Safe Drinking Water Act compliant) .
As in other such cases, neither the EPA nor state environmental regulators have asserted that the sewage treatment facility was anything other than in compliance with federal and state laws.
Because defending against such allegations costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, most of these cases settle. But, assuming the inevitable challenge of the EPA’s Biden administration’s attempt to determine the scope of the Clean Water Act doesn’t come first, one of those cases is going to end up in a Supreme Court with a composition very different from that of the Supreme Court. Court which, in Maui, Citizens’ lawsuits have suggested using litigation to do what Congress should have done a long time ago. I don’t know how anyone can feel good about this prospect.
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