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Supreme Court Strikes Down EPA’s Narrow Interpretation of Clean Water Act

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On April 23, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that sewage plants and other industries are not exempt from environmental requirements when they send contaminated water through indirect routes to rives, oceans, and other waterways that can be navigated.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court rejected the Trump administration’s interpretation that the discharge of water pollution into the ground, instead of directly into neighboring ways, does not exempt an organization from complying with the Clean Water Act.

“We hold that the statute requires a permit when there is a direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters or when there is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the decision.

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The Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration’s watch revised the agency’s position that has allegedly worked well for over 30 years in Breyer’s view. A similar action to revise environmental policy included a broad rollback of the Clean Water Act that would no longer have subject millions of miles of wetlands to federal projections. Public and environmental interest groups argue that the Trump administration’s deregulation measures would have waterways more susceptible to pollution from development, farms, and farms. They vowed to continue fighting these measures in the courts.

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In this case, Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas offered dissenting opinions. “Based on the statutory text and structure, I would hold that a permit is required only when a point source discharges pollutants directly into navigable waters,” Thomas wrote.

David Henkin, a lawyer for the environmental group Earthjustice who argued against the Trump administration, said, “This is unquestionably a win for people who are concerned about protecting clean water in the United States.”

That said, the court did not make as expansive as a ruling like the federal appeals court did, which established a standard that would have subjected more groundwater discharges to be under the purview of the clean water law.

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The Attorney General on His Way Out?: Trump Mulls Firing Bill Barr, Advisers Trying to Dissuade Him

Trump is unhappy about more than just Barr’s recent voter fraud comments.

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President Donald Trump is considering firing Attorney General William Barr, with the Washington Post reporting Wednesday evening that Trump “remained livid” at him.

On Tuesday Barr said that the Justice Department did not find evidence of “fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

An unnamed senior administration official told the Post that although Trump is upset about Barr’s comments, he’s also unhappy with Barr about other matters, such as his previous lack of action on the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and his handling of John Durham.

The president is pressuring Barr to release the “Durham report,” which could implicate officials in using the investigation to target Trump for political reasons. Trump also sees Barr’s secret appointment of Durham to DOJ special counsel as a “stall tactic.”

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AG Barr Reveals John Durham Was Appointed Special Counsel Weeks Before 2020 Election

In the wake of Election Day Attorney General Barr authorized federal prosecutors to “investigate substantial allegations” of voter fraud. But in his comments Tuesday, Barr claimed that “most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct.”

“They are not systemic allegations,” said Barr.

Trump may want to fire Barr, but several advisers are trying to persuade him not to, according to the unnamed senior official.

Either way, it’s tough to see how Barr remains attorney general for much longer. If Joe Biden pulls off the steal and gets inaugurated, he will certainly replace Barr with his own AG. And if Trump hangs on for his second and final term, he may very well want to clean house and start afresh.

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