Court Grants EPA Permit Extension to Dec. 19

In July, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's decision to vacate the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulatory exclusion for discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel (40 C.F.R. 122.3(a)) as of Sept. 30.

This means that, as of that date, vessel discharges previously subject to the exclusion would be discharging without a permit under the Clean Water Act. Violations of this prohibition can subject dischargers to, among other things, citizen suits, which can result in the imposition of penalties of up to $32,500 per day per violation. In response to this court decision, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been developing an NPDES general permit to cover these discharges. However, due to challenges associated with putting in place a permit that is both effective and implementable, EPA requested an extension to delay the vacatur date.

On Aug. 8, the court granted EPA's request for an extension and ordered that the exclusion be vacated as of Dec. 19.

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