A federal court ruled largely in NWEA’s favor on February 28, 2012 in a case challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval of Oregon’s 2004 temperature standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA). NWEA also challenged the reviews conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The case involved numerous claims under the CWA. The court held that EPA had incorrectly failed to act on Oregon’s virtual exemptions from water quality standards for nonpoint sources. It found EPA had arbitrarily approved a provision in Oregon’s water quality standards that allows the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to automatically replace numeric criteria for temperature with allegedly “natural” temperatures without further federal agency review. The court held that EPA had failed to require Oregon to have an antidegradation implementation plan, as ordered by the court in NWEA’s previous case.
And the court ruled across-the-board in NWEA’s favor on its Endangered Species Act claims.