Turning the tide against environmentalists, a federal appeals court has upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's rule on water transfers.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals said the Water Transfers Rule is not subject to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which permits and scrutinizes water quality throughout the country. The EPA rule has allowed water providers to transfer water from one body of water to another -- without NPDES permits -- for decades.
Environmental groups, including conservation and sporting organizations as well as several state, provincial, and tribal governments, argued in their lawsuit that the rule violated the Clean Water Act of 1972. A district court agreed, but the appellate court reversed.
"The EPA's interpretation of the Clean Water Act as reflected in the Rule is supported by several valid arguments--interpretive, theoretical, and practical," the court said in a divided opinion.