In 2007, the United States Army Corps of Engineers granted Mingo Logan Coal Co. a permit to discharge dredge and fill material into four West Virginia streams and their tributaries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not file an objection despite concerns about the discharge’s environmental impacts. Two years later, EPA moved to withdraw the permit in light of new information and circumstances regarding the discharge’s impact on wildlife. EPA claimed that it was authorized to withdraw the permit under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, which provides the Administrator of EPA with the authority to veto specification sites “whenever he determines” a discharge will have an “unacceptable adverse effect” on identified environmental resources. Mingo Logan appealed EPA’s permit withdrawal on the grounds that EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld EPA’s authority to retroactively withdraw the permit. Although the court’s decision has sweeping implications for the reach of EPA, this Comment argues that such broad administrative authority is justified by the plain text of the Clean Water Act and the need for the federal government to take immediate action during environmental crises.
When Is Whenever? EPA’s Retroactive Withdrawal Authority in Mingo Logan,
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