Environmental Law Clinic
Clean Water Act Compliance and Enforcement
Former student attorneys Colin Hood ’13 (second from right) and Alana Wase ’14 (right) following a hearing in federal court on a motion to enter a consent decree, Spring 2013
On behalf of its environmental and civic group clients, the Clinic investigates permit compliance of regulated facilities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to uncover Clean Water Act violations and bring facilities into permit compliance through negotiation, reporting and litigation. The Clinic also conducts extensive reviews on proposed facility-specific and general permits issued by the Maryland Department of Environment pursuant to the Clean Water Act’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES permits).
A significant portion of the Clinic’s work is performed through the state administrative law process to improve compliance and enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The Clinic reports violations uncovered in investigations to the Maryland Department of the Environment and urges the state to take aggressive enforcement actions against these violators. Should the state fail to do so, the Clinic has utilized citizen suits to enforce the Clean Water Act and protect the Chesapeake Bay and our state’s water supply. In addition, the Clinic often submits comments on proposed new permits, urging the Maryland Department of the Environment to issue stronger permits that fully comply with the Clean Water Act and state law. The Clinic’s work for its environmental organization clients has included:
Representing environmental organizations seeking to stop discharges of toxic pollutants from two coal combustion waste landfills. Clinic students drafted a successful motion to intervene in a Maryland Department of the Environment enforcement action in federal court and successfully argued for strengthening the requirements of a proposed consent decree in the case. The Clinic monitored implementation of the consent decree to protect water quality and the health of neighboring communities.
Advocating for stronger Clean Water Act discharge permits, such as the Maryland Construction Stormwater General Permit and permits for specific discharging facilities. Clinic students drafted many of the comments submitted to the Maryland Department of Environment concerning proposed permits.
Clinic students often review and evaluate the compliance of various facilities with the Clean Water Act and discharge permits, and provide legal research and advice to clients regarding options available to enforce the law.
The Clinic represented environmental organizations in a Clean Water Act enforcement case against a concentrated animal feeding operation and a poultry integrator, culminating in a three-week trial in federal court. Clinic students helped draft various motions throughout the case, drafted discovery requests, participated in depositions, prepared trial exhibits, successfully argued a pre-trial motion before the court, and provided support to the Clinic Director and co-counsel throughout the trial.
The Clinic drafted a petition on behalf of Waterkeeper Alliance and local Maryland Waterkeepeers asking the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the Maryland Department of Environment’s delegated Clean Water Act permit program authority based on deficiencies identified in the Maryland Department of Environment’s implementation of the program.