In January 2017, the Second Circuit upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Transfers Rule (Rule), reversing a decision by the Southern District of New York to vacate the Rule and remand the matter to the EPA.1 The decision in Catskill IV was greeted as a victory by many western states and water management districts, but was a disappointment for environmental organizations and downstream states that had intervened as plaintiffs.
Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to address hazardous substances releases from industrial operations. Although the statute was meant to provide communities with a means of self-protection, CERCLA actions are often commenced by a government agency against a polluter or a group of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) without substantial input from the community threatened by the hazardous waste.
Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has been a powerful tool for regulating waterborne pollutants. Despite the success of the Clean Water Act in mitigating water pollution, unforeseen challenges arise when regulators use the Clean Water Act to regulate nonconventional pollutants, including invasive species. Invasive species continue to wreak havoc on North American ecosystems, notably the Great Lakes.
Chinese environmental public interest litigation has assumed increasing attention and significance in recent years. By simply granting standing to public authorities and environmental groups to challenge “acts of polluting or damaging the environment that have harmed the public interest,” the amended Civil Procedure Law of 2012 and Environmental Protection Law of 2014 created an amorphous and ambiguous liability regime.