In 2017, district courts decided several issues that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit had never addressed. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia concluded that the Clean Water Act's (CWA) prohibition on the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit extended to discharges into groundwater with a "direct hydrological connection" to surface waters within the Act's scope. The court also concluded that a state-permitted land application system, whereby wastewater is sprayed onto fields as means of treatment and disposal, constituted a "point source" within the meaning of the CWA. Finally, the court concluded that the Burford v. Sun Oil Co. abstention does not apply to citizen-suits brought under the CWA. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama concluded that the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) discovery rule for statutes of limitations did not preempt Alabama's discovery rule, where the plaintiff did not produce facts in his state law based tort claim for exposure to hazardous substances that would support a claim under CERCLA. In a case that raised no novel issues of law, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida upheld the National Park Service's finding of no significant impact in favor of a private mineral rights holder's plan to survey for oil and gas reserves in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Southern Florida.
Travis M. Trimble,
Environmental Law, Eleventh Circuit Survey
, 69 Mercer L. Rev. 1133
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1295