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Environmental Law — Clean Water Act — navigable waters

U.S. Supreme Court


Environmental Law — Clean Water Act — navigable waters

The pre-amendment version of the Industrial Stormwater Rule, as permissibly construed by the EPA, exempts discharges of channeled stormwater runoff from logging roads from the NPDES permitting scheme.

The regulation is a reasonable interpretation of the statutory term “associated with industrial activity,” §1342(p)(2)(B),and the agency has construed the regulation to exempt the discharges at issue here. When an agency interprets its own regulation, the Court, as a general rule, defers to it “unless that interpretation is ‘plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation.’ ” Chase Bank USA, N. A. v. McCoy, 562 U. S. ___, ___ (quoting Auer v. Robbins, 519  U. S. 452, 461). Here, it was reasonable for the EPA to conclude that the conveyances at issue are “directly related” only to the harvesting of raw materials, rather than to “manufacturing, processing, or raw materials storage areas at an industrial plant.” 40 CFR §122.26(b)(14). The regulatory scheme, taken as a whole, leaves open the rational interpretation that the regulation extends only to traditional industrial buildings such as factories and associated sites and other relatively fixed facilities.

640 F. 3d 1063, reversed and remanded.

11-338 Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center

Kennedy, J.; Roberts, C.J., concurring; Scalia, J., dissenting in part.

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