By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer
The U.S. Clean Water Act, which Congress passed nearly a half-century ago, prohibits pollution in navigable bodies of water, but now the Supreme Court justices will examine whether indirect contamination—specifically in groundwater—is in violation of the landmark legislation.
The decision to review the law follows a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling on Hawaii’s Maui County, and whether injecting treated sewage from a wastewater treatment plant into groundwater violated the Clean Water Act.
According to USA Today the environmental group Earthjustice warned that, “If the Supreme Court reverses the lower courts’ decisions, chemical plants, concentrated animal feeding operations, oil refineries, and other industrial facilities would effectively have free rein to discharge pollutants indirectly into the nation’s waterways without Clean Water Act permits.”
The high court’s decision to consider the case comes after the Trump administration announced it was rescinding previous regulations that expanded federal protection of smaller rivers and streams around the country.