Green Law: Supreme Court Decision on Wastewater Dumping

Supreme Court watchers are hitting the refresh button often as the term wraps up and decisions are released in bunches.

Monday saw a significant ruling for the clean-tech observer as the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold an Army Corps of Engineers ruling that allowed an Alaskan mining company to dump slurry waste into a nearby lake as a permanent disposal method.

The court broke predictably, with Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens dissenting. There were some doomsday reactions from the environmental community, for example, “If a mining company can turn Lower Slate Lake in Alaska into a lifeless waste dump, other polluters with solids in their wastewater can potentially do the same to any water body in America,’ said Trip Van Noppen, president of the environmental advocacy group Earthjustice, whose lawyer argued the case before the court.”

But, the fact is that while the decision may clear the way for the obliteration of this one Alaskan lake, it breaks no new ground in environmental law. It was an administrative law case that saw the Court determine that the Army Corps of Engineers was the correct agency to make the call on the permit and that their decision merits deference from the court.

Skip to toolbar