The Environmental Protection Agency properly disapproved West Virginia’s revised standard for the receiving waters of the Charleston Sanitary Board’s wastewater treatment facility along the Kanawha River.
The Clean Water Act authorizes the EPA to oversee the intergovernmental efforts to protect our nation’s navigable waters. In that role, the EPA is required to bring its own discretion and expertise to bear on those scientific and technical matters for which it is well-suited. This discretion extends to its review of state water quality standards. Because the EPA had discretion to deny the proposed standard and followed a reasoned and well-documented path to reach its final decision, we must afford its judgment the deference that the law requires.
Through standards of review and court/agency interactions, this case and many others underscore that law and science must work in tandem on environmental issues, not at loggerheads. Indeed, it is that partnership between law and science, as illustrated here, that offers the best hope of avoiding environmental disruptions that may one day visit serious adverse consequences upon us all.