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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, and EPA may delegate this authority to a state where the state meets certain minimum requirements. Vermont applied for and received delegation authority in 1974.

The petition and follow-up documents detail the six primary areas in which Vermont is failing to meet its obligations under the Clean Water Act. It asks 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.

Recently, we realized an important victory when H.258 passed the Vermont legislature. This bill remedies one of the key deficiencies presented in the petition - the lack of adequate public participation in administrative enforcement actions. The bill provides meaningful intervention rights and requires ANR to provide notice and comment on settlements. Both CLF and ANR advocated for its passage. However, other petition issues remain outstanding and the parties are currently in discussion in efforts to resolve them.