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Crowell & Moring Clients Proclaim Victory in Crucial Seventh Circuit Court Environmental Ruling

Court Rules in Favor of Home Builders

Washington, D.C. – June 17, 2005: Crowell & Moring clients National Association of Home Builders and Wisconsin Builders Association are proclaiming victory after a critical ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The June 13 decision, which has implications for the home building, general construction, mining, and agricultural industries, among others, addresses whether the public has the right to weigh in on storm water management plans created under the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) general permit program.

“The Seventh Circuit ruling showed that EPA's existing program provides responsible regulatory oversight without undue burden on industry. Had the court not ruled sensibly, Americans would have almost certainly seen extensive and costly delays in the building of new homes and other important economic development projects,” said R. Timothy McCrum, Crowell & Moring partner.

In Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, et al. v. EPA (Nos. 03-3277 et al.), the Seventh Circuit upheld EPA's method for regulating storm water discharges from construction sites pursuant to the Clean Water Act. The Natural Resources Defense Council challenged the EPA to make individual construction site storm water run-off plans subject to public review, a method that could have potentially caused significant delays and increased costs to home builders and others affected by the ruling.

In its unanimous decision, the court ruled that the general permit does not violate the Clean Water Act's requirements for public notice and public hearing because the public was afforded ample opportunity to participate in the development and issuance of the general permit, and that individual review of each plan developed pursuant to the permit "would eviscerate the administrative efficiency inherent in the general permitting concept . . . "

The court also held that the EPA complied with requirements of the Endangered Species Act and dismissed the remaining permit challenges, ruling that the environmental petitioners lacked standing because they had failed to identify any construction site discharges that would or could potentially harm their use and enjoyment of any waterway.

Crowell & Moring attorneys Ellen B. Steen, R. Timothy McCrum, J. Michael Klise, and David P. Ross represented the National Association of Home Builders and Wisconsin Builders Association, which were intervening respondents in the case. Crowell & Moring's Natural Resources & Environmental Group also represented clients in related cases in the Ninth and Second Circuits.


An Pham
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