Supreme Court Decision, Decker v. NEDC
March 22, 2013
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited ruling in Decker v. NEDC. In a 7-1 decision authored by Justice Kennedy, the Court ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the case, but NEDC lost on the merits. The Court, in a relatively narrow opinion, deferred to EPA’s position that the discharge of channelized stormwater pollution from logging roads was not “associated with industrial activity,” and therefore did not require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit under the Clean Water Act. Interestingly, the case drew a strong dissent from Justice Scalia, who disagreed with the majority’s decision to defer to EPA, and instead argued that NEDC’s interpretation was the “fairest reading” of the relevant rules. The Court’s opinion on the jurisdictional issues establishes important precedent for citizens’ ability to enforce the Clean Water Act and its regulations. Earthrise Clinical Professor Allison LaPlante, together with third year students Lia Comerford and Meredith Price, submitted an amicus brief to the Court on the jurisdictional issue.