NACWA Comments on Proposed Changes to Administrative Appeals Process

(January 8, 2020) – NACWA submitted comments January 2 on EPA’s recent proposal to alter the administrative appeals process through the Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), supporting efforts to streamline the process but expressing concern over plans to eliminate stakeholder input and increase Agency political influence over the EAB’s deliberations. 

The proposal only impacts administrative review procedures for Clean Water Act (CWA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued directly by EPA – it does not impact permits issued by state permitting authorities.

NACWA’s comments support the proposal’s procedural changes to streamline the administrative appeals process through the EAB to make it less onerous on the parties and to promote the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) when possible.  But the comments oppose the idea of eliminating stakeholder participation through amicus briefs before the EAB and express concern with the proposal’s approach that would let EPA political leadership step into the appeals process and issue their own binding legal interpretations, essentially sidelining the EAB as a quasi-judicial, independent appeals board. 

NACWA will continue to monitor developments regarding these potential changes and will keep the membership updated.  Anyone with questions can contact Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s Chief Advocacy Officer.