Friday was Friday. The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment, Division of Environmental Quality, filed a ReportedIn the Eastern District of Arkansas, against the Environmental Protection Agency and its Administrator Michael Regan for violating the DEQs authority under the Clean Water Act to implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES).
According to the complaint, the DEQ is the Arkansas state agency responsible for administering and enforcing the Arkansas environmental protection statutes and regulations, including the state’s NPDES permit program. According to the complaint, the EPA is the federal agency responsible in the supervision, administration and enforcement many federal environmental laws. This includes administering the federal NPDES program under the Clean Water Act.
The complaint claims that each state governor is empowered by the Clean Water Act to request authority to manage the NPDES permit program in his or her state. This can be done by applying to EPA and following certain statutory conditions. The complaint further states that the EPA will approve any application if it meets the minimum statutory requirements. Once approved, the authority for issuing NPDES permits will be transferred to the state with certain oversight responsibilities by EPA.
The DEQ argues that EPA violated federal law. It also infringed the plaintiff’s authority to apply NPDES permits. This was done by failing to exercise its oversight responsibilities promptly and trying to insert itself into the Arkansas NPDES permit program.
Plaintiff claims that the EPA infringes on the DEQs authority, asking for additional information and revisions of NPDES permits, and issuing objection letters after the statutory deadlines. DeQ specifically alleges that the EPA failed in its duty to object to two renewal permits of NPDES.
The first permit was a five year NPDES permit that was issued to the Northwest Arkansas Conservation Authority to discharge treated wastewater. The complaint alleges that the EPA submitted a request for additional information 16 days past its statutory deadline and issued an interim objection 245 days after EPA’s deadline for objecting. Further, the DEQ argues that the EPA issued a specific objection letter 360 days after EPA’s deadline for objecting to the draft NACA permit had passed.
Further, the complaint claims that the EPA sent a letter of objection to a renewal permit of the Springdale Water and Sewer Commision PDES renewal permit 291 days before the EPA deadline and a letter of specific objection 313 days after the deadline. The complaint states that the DEQ followed its statutory requirements. On April 1, 20,22, the EPA sent another email to the DEQ reiterating that it must revise both the NACA and Springdale permits.
The plaintiff argues the EPA’s failure within the statutory deadline to exercise its oversight authority infringes upon Arkansas’ sovereign authority. This also deprives DEQ its right to implement its authorized NPDES programme. The plaintiff is seeking Declaratory and Injunctive Relief. It alleges that the EPA exceeded its statutory authority and abused its discretion under Clean Water Act.