News and Analysis
This week, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency submitted the final 2020 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report to U.S. EPA for approval. The final report is available here. 5/14/2020
Ohio EPA has issued a public notice for a new general permit, titled “Ohio General Permit for Filling Category 1 and Category 2 Isolated Wetlands and Ephemeral Streams.” This covers the filling of, and the discharge of, dredged material into ephemeral streams determined to not be waters of the U.S. and not subject to Section 404 or 401 of the Clean Water Act. Ohio EPA’s stated intent with the general permit is to fill gaps in the regulatory landscape after the issuance of U.S. EPA’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule.
Ohio EPA has asked that comments on the general permit be submitted by June 1. All comments should be submitted by email or by U.S. Mail, sent to: Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water – Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049. Please let Rob Brundrett know if your company is interested in submitting comments.
Meanwhile, on May 21, OMA environmental counsel Bricker & Eckler LLP will be hosting an informative webinar on this issue, as well as the impacts of the District of Montana decision on Nationwide Permit 12 and Ohio EPA’s 401 water quality certifications. 5/14/2020
Lake Erie last month broke its April record, rising 9 inches above the April 2019 level. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the lake has broken high water average records for eight of the last 12 months, according to reports. 5/6/2020
Ohio business leaders are invited to take part in a call with U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Monday, May 4, at 4:15 p.m. (ET). Call-in line is (866) 609-6049, followed by this code: 6429667.
The call will focus on the recent guidance from the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help facility operators and families properly clean and disinfect spaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The call will include a question and answer session for Ohio businesses in attendance. If a company would like to ask a question, email EPA staff. 4/30/2020
The U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers recently published the long-awaited final “waters of the United States” rule, which defines the scope of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. It will go into effect June 22. According to analysis by OMA Connections Partner Thompson Hine, industry groups and agricultural groups have hailed the Trump administration’s rule, but legal battles are on the horizon. 4/28/2020
As companies begin re-opening or resuming normal operations, OMA Connections Partner Thompson Hine has developed this checklist that businesses can use to assess their environmental compliance status following the lifting or reduction of federal and state limitations and guidelines. 4/28/2020
In a 6-3 opinion issued Thursday, April 23, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Clean Water Act regulates activities releasing pollutants that are eventually conveyed through groundwater to navigable water.
Rejecting the Trump administration’s views, the majority ruled in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund et al. that a permit is required when there is a direct discharge from a point source into navigable waters, or when there is the “functional equivalent of a direct discharge.”
According to the OMA’s legal counsel, Bricker & Eckler, the Supreme Court’s decision is likely to have far reaching implications for permitting and enforcement pursuant to the Clean Water Act. 4/23/2020
To mark the 50th anniversary celebration of Earth Day, Ohio EPA this week noted that half a century ago, businesses had few places to go for guidance with environmental issues. Today, Ohio’s businesses can contact Ohio EPA for free and confidential compliance assistance. According to the agency, compliance staff has assisted more than 80,000 businesses. Learn more here. 4/22/2020
On April 14, U.S. EPA proposed to retain the current national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) without revision. After reviewing the air quality criteria and primary and secondary NAAQS for fine and coarse PM, the agency concluded that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support tightening these standards. U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated he believes the current levels will be protective of public health while the agency continues to evaluate PM. EPA will accept public comment for 60 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register. 4/16/2020
This week, the U.S. EPA announced 15 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants totaling more than $9 million to fund projects addressing excess nutrient runoff from non-point sources, including stormwater and agriculture, to the Great Lakes. Approximately $2.5 million of this amount will be going to Ohio entities. 4/14/2020