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Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic

Protecting Vermont's Water Quality

On August 14, 2008, the Clinic filed a petition on behalf of Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) asking EPA to withdraw Vermont’s authority to administer the Clean Water Act permitting program in Vermont. The Clean Water Act gives EPA the primary responsibility to implement its water pollution control mandates, but EPA may approve a state program in its stead where the state meets certain minimum requirements. Vermont applied for and received approval in 1974.

The petition and follow-up documents detailed the six primary areas in which Vermont was failing to meet its obligations under the Clean Water Act. It asked that EPA work with Vermont and the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to bring Vermont’s program up to speed, and that EPA take over the program if necessary. In 2012, we reached a positive milestone when H.258 passed the Vermont legislature. This bill remedied one of the key deficiencies presented in the petition—the lack of adequate public participation in administrative enforcement actions. The bill provided meaningful intervention rights and required ANR to provide notice and comment on settlements. Both CLF and ANR advocated for its passage.

In July 2013, after a series of collaborative discussions among CLF, ENRLC, EPA Region 1, and Vermont ANR, EPA Region 1 sent a Corrective Action Plan to the State. The Plan comprehensively addressed the key issues we raised in the Petition process and represents an important victory for clean water in Vermont.