Clean Water Act

On November 19, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad released a nearly 200 page report calling for reductions in nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus found in fertilizer run-off from agriculture operations and wastewater treatment plants. The report, nearly two years in the making, came as a result of a 2008 EPA directive called the Hypoxia Action Plan which outlined a strategy for 12 states in the Mississippi River watershed to reduce discharges of nutrients that contributed to the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico - an oxygen deprived area that causes algae blooms and fish kills.

On Wednesday, October 3, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. the United States to decide whether numerous water releases by the Army Corps of Engineers can be considered a prohibited "takings" under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The decision is being closely watched by property rights activists, local governments, and other states to determine whether "temporary" discharges directed by the Corps can be considered takings that require compensation like other permanent government-controlled flooding events.

So far the most controversial case the U.S. Supreme Court has accepted for its October 2012 term involves the University of Texas-Austin’s affirmative action plan.  Will it take a gay marriage case is the big question.  If the Court’s objective is to lie low after deciding two particularly controversial cases—the Affordable Care Act cases and Arizona immigration case—stormwater runoff might be a safe subject matter to take up.  This perhaps explains why the Court has accepted not one but two stormwater runoff cases! 

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