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第四巡回法庭持有NPDES许可证并非绝对免于CWA责任

清洁水法(“CWA”)通常禁止将污染的废水排放到美国水域,除非排放者拥有国家污染排放消除系统(“NPDES”)许可证。放电人持有许可证后,就无需承担放电相关的责任-除非最近在第四巡回下期双色球预测所观察到, 俄亥俄 Valley Environmental Coalition v. 福拉煤炭 Company, 有限责任公司,第161024号(第4卷,2017年4月1日),许可证持有人不合规。

西弗吉尼亚’NPDES计划包括专门管理NPDES煤炭开采许可证的法规。 福拉煤炭 Company,LLC(“Fola Coal”) first obtained its permit under 西弗吉尼亚’的NPDES煤矿开采计划是在1996年,目的是排入接收水道,然后在2009年进行了更新。  In the case at issue, several environmental groups, including 俄亥俄 Valley Environmental Coalition, 西弗吉尼亚 Highlands Conservancy, and the Sierra Club, brought suit against 福拉煤炭 under the CWA’s citizen suit provision. The environmental groups alleged that 福拉煤炭 violated a specific section within 福拉煤炭’的许可证,第5.1.f节,其中规定:

WV / NPDES许可证所涵盖的排放物的质量应不致违反环境保护部第47编第2辑所采用的适用水质标准。

弗吉尼亚州代码R.§ 47-30-5.1.f (2009). The environmental groups claimed 福拉煤炭 violated this specific provision by discharging ionic pollution that resulted in increased conductivity in the relevant receiving waterways.

福拉煤炭在某种程度上反驳说,它已向西弗吉尼亚州环境保护局披露了其离子放电的性质及其增加水中电导率的潜力(“WVDEP”) during its 2009 permit renewal application, and that despite the disclosure 网页设计 placed no specific limitations within the language of the permit. This, 福拉煤炭 maintained, resulted in an affirmative 决定by 网页设计 not to impose restrictions on water conductivity, which in turn shielded 福拉煤炭 from complying with the state water standards, as otherwise made applicable by 5.1.f.  Fola Coal辩称,由于它符合许可证中规定的所有明确废水排放限制,因此有效地避免了CWA规定的所有责任。

福拉煤炭还辩称,法律的变化使它免于遵守法律。 具体来说,在2012年, 西弗吉尼亚州立法机关制定了2012 W. Va。SB 615,其中规定:“尽管有任何相反的规则或许可条件,…遵守根据本条签发的许可证应视为符合以下目的”CWA。 网页设计随后阐明了新颁布的法律,称其语言与新闻部一致’许可证持有人仅需向WVDEP披露其废水排放量,并遵守许可证中的废水排放限制。此外,根据WVDEP,如果许可证持有人这样做,许可证将使许可证持有人免于承担《清洁水法》规定的所有责任。 福拉煤炭指出了这些监管和立法方面的发展,以加强其关于将许可保护罩应用于其离子释放的观点。

Subsequently, in 2015 网页设计 fruitlessly attempted to remove the section 5.1.f language at issue in this case, but 环保局 did not approve any such changes as, in its view, the proposed elimination would result in weakening the state’s NPDES program. In the same year, the state of 西弗吉尼亚 enacted a law explicitly prohibiting the enforcement of water quality standard violations against permit holders. 福拉煤炭 further relied on these legislative developments as well as 网页设计’s对SB 615的解释,以支持其立场,即不应对放电引起的电导率增加负责。

地方下期双色球预测不同意Fola’s arguments. Evidence showed that 福拉煤炭’s discharges were negatively affecting nearby stream conditions, to the point where they became effectively impaired under 环保局 standards. The District Court found that these effects were in violation of 西弗吉尼亚 water quality standards incorporated in 福拉煤炭’s permit, regardless of whether 福拉煤炭 was compliant with its numeric effluent limitations. The District Court characterized section 5.1.f as a narrative requirement apart from the numeric limits, and ultimately held for the environmental groups.

经上诉,第四巡回下期双色球预测复审 从头 并最终确认地方下期双色球预测’s findings. In its appeal, 福拉煤炭 asserted that (1) the language in 5.1.f is ambiguous, and argued that it is best interpreted as if actually controlling the conduct of the permitting authority rather than the permittee, (2) the district court did not examine extrinsic evidence showing that 5.1.f clearly imposed no obligation on the permittee, and a newly introduced argument (3) that the Court’s holding in 松树奔跑 要求5.1.f仅对许可当局施加义务。 松树奔跑压力。屁股’n v. Cty. Comm’rs, ,268 F.3d 255(4 Cir。2001)。

As to 福拉煤炭’在第一个断言中,第四巡回下期双色球预测认定5.1.f的语言是“简单明了。”由于该语言侧重于排放本身,因此很明显它将适用于许可证持有人而不是监管者。下期双色球预测还研究了围绕5.1.f节的其他规定,以确定它们明确规定了对许可证持有人的限制,下期双色球预测也将遵循5.1.f节的规定。

The 第四巡回赛 further concluded there were two distinct obligations in 福拉煤炭’s许可:数字排放限制和第5.1.f节中包含的单独叙述义务。因此,为了合规,公司必须履行两项义务。

As to 福拉煤炭’证据表明上述立法和法规的发展,第四巡回下期双色球预测在区域下期双色球预测之后’s holding below. The 第四巡回赛 Court concluded that even with the noted intent in 2013 of both the Legislature and 网页设计 to provide a liability shield for NPDES permit holders, such intent did not extend to apply retroactively to 福拉煤炭’s 2009 permit. Therefore, the Court concluded, 福拉煤炭 was subjected to compliance with the requirements of section 5.1.f.

Fola还提出了一个新引入的论点,声称第四巡回赛’s 决定in 松树奔跑压力。屁股’n v. Cty. Comm’rs further shields it from CWA liability. 福拉煤炭 contended that the Court’s 松树奔跑 决定“认为许可证持有人向许可机构披露其污染物并随后遵守其NPDES许可证中的污水排放限制不受CWA的责任。” ID . Fola argued that because it disclosed the presence of conductivity in its discharges to the 网页设计, and has complied with the permit’按照既定的污水排放限值,无论是否违反有关电导率的州水质标准,均不受CWA的限制。 ID .

下期双色球预测也驳回了这一论点,根据 松树奔跑 许可证持有人必须遵守许可证的明示条款,第四巡回下期双色球预测认为该条款已将要求纳入第5.1.f节。

最后,下期双色球预测维持地方下期双色球预测的裁决’s rulings below on the remedies ordered. A special master was appointed to oversee implementation of 福拉煤炭’提出的解决方案,重点放在与当地水域景观相关的水管理实践上。

总而言之,第四巡回下期双色球预测在其分析中确认,只有那些符合以下条件的NPDES许可持有人才能遵守: 每一个 根据《清洁水法》,不仅限于数字标准,还可以获得许可证的保护范围。