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Gulf Restoration Network v. McCarthy

783 F.3d 227 (2015)

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Gulf Restoration Network v. McCarthy

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

783 F.3d 227 (2015)

Facts

The Clean Water Act is meant to protect water quality through the regulation of pollution. The Clean Water Act explains that states are initially responsible for creating and implementing water-quality standards but also empowers the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant) to set water-quality standards for a state if the EPA determines that a new standard is necessary to comply with the statute. This determination is called a necessity determination. The Gulf Restoration Network (the Network) (plaintiff) petitioned the EPA to create water-quality standards for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Mississippi River Basin and the northern Gulf of Mexico. The EPA refused, arguing that the affected states should take the lead in implementing new water-quality standards. The Network alleged that the EPA violated the Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedures Act by failing to make a necessity determination. The EPA moved to dismiss the case, arguing its decision to make a necessity determination is a discretionary act that is not reviewable by a court. The district court ruled that it had jurisdiction to review the claim and ordered the EPA to make a necessity determination. The EPA appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Higginbotham, J.)

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