Federal Court Delivers Major Victory Upholding State Primacy and Flexibility in Nutrient Criteria Development

June 15, 2021

The United States District Court Judge Laughrey of the Western District of Missouri upheld EPA’s approval of Missouri’s nutrient water quality criteria for lakes and reservoirs. EPA’s approval was challenged by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE). The decision is a landmark, nationwide precedent that bolsters the flexibility afforded to states in nutrient criteria development. The court’s decision reaffirms the Clean Water Act’s (CWA’s) Cooperative Federalism framework, EPA’s appropriate role in the standard setting process (“mere oversight”), the court’s limited review of EPA action (determination of rational basis) while also rejecting unpromulgated EPA guidance as a legal requirement that must be complied with in water quality standards development. (read more)