NRDC Intervenes in Legal Attack on EPA Stormwater Regulations

Says Industry and Municipalities Are Attempting to Block New Safeguards

WASHINGTON (May 19, 2000) - The Natural Resources Defense Council today intervened in a lawsuit against new Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at reducing stormwater pollution. Those regulations, which the EPA issued in December 1999, have been challenged by two industry trade associations and two municipalities. The new regulations constitute the final Phase II rule under a 1987 amendment to the Clean Water Act.

"Contaminated stormwater runoff is one of the most significant sources for pollution in our nation's rivers, lakes and estuaries," says Nancy Stoner, an NRDC senior attorney. "We are intervening in this case to make sure these strong stormwater regulations, which would protect our waters from further degradation, go into effect."

Phase I of the 1987 Clean Water Act amendment, initiated in 1990, covers industrial stormwater, large construction sites, and metropolitan areas with populations greater than 100,000. Phase II Clean Water Act stormwater regulations apply to cities with populations below 100,000 and construction sites between 1 acre and 5 acres.

Challenges against the Phase II regulations were brought by the National Association of Home Builders, the American Forest and Paper Association, the Texas Cities Coalition on Stormwater, and the Texas Counties Stormwater Coalition. NRDC will join the Environmental Defense Center, a Santa Barbara-based group, in opposing the industry and Texas petitioners, who are trying to block the new regulations.

"We anticipate that the trade groups and municipalities will challenge to the constitutionality of the stormwater program and contend that the program is too broad, " says Stoner. "We believe the constitutional challenge is completely baseless and that the program should address all significant sources of stormwater pollution."

Last June, NRDC published "Stormwater Strategies: Community Responses to Runoff Pollution" to help communities develop Phase II stormwater programs. The report found more than 150 effective -- and cost effective -- programs implemented by local governments and developers across the country.

"There are a number of ways to reduce stormwater pollution that clean up waterways and provide economic benefits for communities, " says George Aponte-Clarke, an NRDC policy analyst and one of the report's authors. "Local governments can save money by protecting their water resources. They also can enhance aquatic and aesthetic value, and improve environmental functions, such as filtering pollutants and preventing floods."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientist, lawyers, and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

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