Supreme Court’s Murky Clean Water Act Ruling Created Legal Quagmire

Lawyers rarely agree on anything, but here’s an exception: They all say the Supreme Court bungled Rapanos v. United States, a major wetlands case, almost five years ago.

Attorneys representing all interested parties say lower court judges, regulators, the business community and individual landowners continue to suffer as a result of the confusion sown by the justices whose main job is to provide clarity in the law.

The case concerned the efforts of Michigan landowner John Rapanos to develop a property that, much to his dismay, was designated as a wetland. He hadn’t applied for a permit and was subsequently the target of U.S. EPA civil and criminal enforcement actions.

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Perchlorate in drinking water more detrimental to infants than expected: study

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) — Infants who drink water containing low levels of the chemical perchlorate face a greater health risk than previously believed, a new study suggests.

In the study, researchers looked at ground drinking water slightly contaminated with perchlorate in several cities in Southern California, the Press Enterprise said Saturday.

The study shows that infants who drank water slightly contaminated with perchlorate had a 50-percent chance of developing poorly performing thyroid glands, the paper said, quoting Dr. Craig Steinmaus from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and lead author of the study.

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Proposed rules seek to clear agricultural pollutants from waterways; study says Central Coast water most toxic in state

Aiming to clean up some of the most toxic water in California, regional water quality officials are considering new rules to control polluting runoff from agricultural fields.

Growers say the regulations are too burdensome, and countered last week with a proposal to have an industry-backed coalition tackle water quality problems.

Environmentalists say neither plan does enough to protect water supplies.

After more than two years in development, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board will consider adopting the new regulations in March.

Executive Officer Roger Briggs said board staff sought to create a plan that would be practical and hold people accountable.

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Ban on sewage dumping along California coast to get federal teeth

Cruise ships and large commercial ships will be banned from dumping any kind of sewage — even highly filtered wastewater — along California’s coast out to three miles from shore, under new rules from the Obama administration.

The rules, which are scheduled to be announced Wednesday at a news conference in San Francisco, give California among the strictest laws in the nation limiting pollution from large ships.

“This is going to cover the entire California coastline,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto. “Oceangoing vessels should not consider our coastline a place for dumping sewage.”

In 2005, Simitian wrote a bill that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed banning sewage discharges in state waters from cruise ships and commercial ships larger than 300 gross tons.

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