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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.

Big League Guns

Democrats Introduce Expanded Background Check Legislation

Democrats are going to implement a background check which targets “extremism.”

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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy and California Congressman Mike Thompson brought forward legislation on March 2, 2021 that aims to broaden the federal background check system on firearms sales, according to a report by The Hill.

Under The Background Check Expansion Act,  gun sales and purchases between all unlicensed sellers and buyers would be subject to a mandatory background check. The background checks would not be applicable for law enforcement officers, lending out firearms for the purpose of hunting, temporary transfers for self-defense, or family members gifting a firearm. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and 43 Senate Democrats have co-sponsored this bill. Thompson, who is the chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, reintroduced this legislation in the U.S. House

“For years, the bipartisan House-passed background checks bill languished in the Senate under Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Now, with Senate Democrats in the Majority, we have the opportunity to act on this overwhelmingly popular, lifesaving legislation to protect American communities,” Schumer declared in a press release.

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According to a CBS News report, President Joe Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass stiffer gun control laws. This gun control bill will not pass so easily given how it will need 10 Republican senators to vote in favor of it.

Against the backdrop of the January 6 storming of the Capitol, such a background check will likely feature provisions that target so-called “extremists.” The ruling class has routinely lumped average gun owners with domestic extremists and will most certainly use recent events to justify encroachments on people’s right to bear arms. 

Biden is a veteran of the gun control movement, as evidenced by his sponsorship of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. With Democrats in control of all branches of the federal government, they will certainly move to pass gun control. However, their success is not guaranteed due to moderate Democrats like Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Joe Manchin not being completely receptive to radical gun control that could alienate them from their more right-wing constituents.

Nevertheless, the Left has shown that it’s willing to act regardless of the political context. Keeping this in mind, gun owners must be ready to beat back any kind of gun control coming from D.C. Such fights will allow the Right to rebuild its forces and make a splash in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential race. 

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