A federal court in Louisiana has reportedly issued an order allowing 10 states to intervene on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups over EPA’s alleged failure to establish water quality criteria to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin and the north Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Restoration Network v. Jackson, No. 12-677 (E.D. La. order issued 7/15/12). The 10 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota— filed their motion to intervene four months after 11 environmental groups sued EPA. Louisiana had previously been allowed to intervene.
Plaintiffs alleged that excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged into Mississippi River Basin waters by wastewater treatment plants promote excessive algae growth and the formation of low-oxygen zones, resulting in fish kills. They argue that EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act in denying a 2008 petition seeking EPA action. The states asserted that they had significant interests in the lawsuit that could be impaired by plaintiffs’ proposed remedy. They have been delegated authority by EPA to implement the Clean Water Act in their states. See BNA Daily Environment Report, July 23, 2012.