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Carlota Copper Company v. Friends of Pinto Creek


Carlota Copper Company v. Friends of Pinto Creek

The U.S. Supreme Court announced January 12, 2009 that it would not review a lower court decision in Carlota Copper v. Friends of Pinto Creek, a case involving a controversial ruling on National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for new discharges to impaired waters.  NACWA and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Court in July 2008 encouraging review of the case.  The lower court ruling, decided by the Ninth Circuit in October 2007, places severe restrictions on when NPDES permits can be issued for new discharges to impaired waters, even when such discharges would be “offset” by actions intended to result in a net environmental gain or water quality improvement for the waterbody.  The lower court ruling is also in direct conflict with Cities of Annandale and Maple Lakes, a 2007 decision from the Supreme Court of Minnesota upholding the use of an offset analysis and in which NACWA filed an amicus brief supporting the use of such an analysis.  The NACWA/CASA brief in Pinto Creek, also filed with the California League of Cities, encouraged the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit ruling due to the conflict with the Annandale case and also stressed the importance of offset analyses as a tool for permitting authorities to use in improving overall water quality.  NACWA is disappointed with the High Court’s decision not to review the case and will work to limit the impact of the Ninth Circuit ruling in other parts of the nation.


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