Recent Water Law Cases
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Updated on December 9, 2014
Mingo Logan Coal Company, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency
2014 WL4828883 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2014)
by Shannon Martin Dilley
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently examined the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) veto authority under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. §1344(c) (2012), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §702 et seq. (2012). The court held the EPA’s decision to invoke its veto authority and revoke the 404 permit was reasonably supported by the record, based on considerations within the agency purview, and entitled to deference. Mingo Logan Coal Co., Inc. v. U.S. EPA, 2014 WL4828883 (D.D.C. Sept. 30, 2014). Read more.
Sahu v. Union Carbide Corp.
2014 WL3765556 (S.D. N.Y. 2014)
by Kieran McCarthy
This case, Sahuv. Union Carbide Corp., 2014 WL3765556 (SDNY July 31, 2014) (SahuII), arises from the events that led to the release of hazardous chemicals from a chemical manufacturing plant in Bhophal, India. The plant was operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) from 1969 until 1984, when a disastrous gas leak forced the Indian Government to close the facility. This case, brought before District Judge John F. Keenan in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, follows Sahuv. Union Carbide Corp., 528F. App’x96 (2d Cir 2013) (SahuI), where after appeal, summary judgment was granted for defendant Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) regarding personal injury claims. The action in SahuII was stayed in 2007 pending the litigation in SahuI. Following that decision, the plaintiffs, in November 2013 amended their complaint adding the state of Madhya Pradesh as a defendant. Read more.
White Oak Realty, LLC. v. United States Army Corp. of Engineers
by Zachary Smith
This case involves a civil action brought for declaratory and injunctive relief from a mitigation requirement imposed by the Defendants, United States Corps of Engineers (Corps), on a tract of land in Southeast Louisiana jointly owned by Plaintiffs, White Oak Realty, LLC and Citrus Realty, LLC. White Oak Realty, LLC v. United States Army Corp of Eng'rs, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS123227 (E.D. La. Sept. 2, 2014).Read more.
Millview County Water District v. State Water Resources Control Board
229 Cal. App. 4th 879 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. Sep. 11, 2014)
by Wes Knoll
The California Court of Appeals for the First Appellate District (Court) recently reversed the California Water Resources Control Board (Board) in a pre-1914 appropriative right for feature a ction. Millview County Water Dist. v. State Water Res. Control Bd., 229 Cal. App. 4th 879,899 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 2014). On appeal, the Court held that the Board applied the in correct legal standard when it forfeited a water right owned by the Plaintiff, Millview County Water District. The Court determined for feature of an appropriative right requires an assertion of a conflicting claim—a “clash of rights”—and if no conflicting claim is asserted during non use of a water right, the original right holder may resume the use of their full amount. Id. At 903. Read more.
Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards v. Red River Coal Company, Inc.
No. 2:14-CV-00024, 2014 WL4462427 (W.D. Va.Sep.10, 2014)
by Brett A. Miller
The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia recently denied the Red River Coal Company’s (defendant) motion to dismiss a citizen's suit that alleged the mining company had exceeded its allowable discharges and violated Section 505(a) of the Clean Water Act. 33 U.S.C. §1365(a); S. Appalachian Mountain Stewards v. Red River Coal Co., No.2:14-CV-00024, 2014 WL4462427, at 1 (W.D. Va. Sep. 10, 2014). Judge James P. Jones, presiding in the Big Stone Gap Division, did not grant the motion to dismiss because more information was necessary to determine whether the “(n)(3) condition” within a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits must comply with the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements. Id. At 2. Read more.
San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Jewell
2014 WL4249183 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 27, 2014)
by Andrew Mulkey
In a dispute related to the allocation of water within the Klamath Basin, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District California denied plaintiffs’, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and Westlands Water District, motion to enjoin the release of water from the Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River. San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Jewell, No. 1:13-cv-01232, 2014 WL4249183, at *1–2 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 27, 2014). To reduce the likelihood of a disease outbreak among salmon populations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) planned “Flow Augmentation” releases (FARs) from the dam in August 2014. Id. Plaintiffs claimed that the 2014 FARs impacted their ability to receive their own allocation of water. Although the Court indicated that the plaintiffs would likely succeed on the merits of one of their underlying claims, the Court declined to enjoin the FARs because the balance of the harms did not favor an injunction. Id. At *11.Read more.
Houston Unlimited, Inc., v. Mel Acres Ranch
57 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 1223 (Tex. 2014)
By Stephanie Schwarz
In Houston Unlimited, Inc., v. Mel Acres Ranch, 57 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 1223 (Tex. 2014), the Texas Supreme Court declined to award stigma damages to the plaintiff, the owner of a property that had been contaminated by the actions of its neighbor, Houston Unlimited. The Court concluded that the evidence provided by Mel Acres’ expert witness, a licensed real estate appraiser, was not legally sufficient. Id. The Court reversed the court of appeal’s judgment, which had affirmed a jury verdict awarding Mel Acres with almost $350,000 in lost market value based on “stigma damage” from past contamination. Id. At 5. Read more.