Thursday May 30, 2024

San Francisco Chronicle

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear San Francisco’s appeal of a ruling that tightened offshore water pollution standards and said the city was failing to adequately protect swimmers and bathers from discharges of sewage into the Pacific. The ruling, due next year, could limit the authority of federal and state environmental agencies.

The issue is whether — as San Francisco and other local governments contend — environmental laws require them only to limit water pollution to amounts set in advance, such as specific discharges per million parts of water. Federal and state regulators argued that the city was still violating its legal duty to prevent dangerous pollution from bacteria and other contaminants from flowing through its Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant into the ocean.

In the nation’s first appellate case on the issue, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the federal and state agencies last July, saying they have “broad authority” to limit waste discharges and protect the public. But the Supreme Court set that ruling aside Tuesday and agreed to hear the city’s appeal, which was supported by other local water regulators and the National Mining Association.

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