Supreme Court sides with enviros on licenses for hydroelectric dams

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the first environmental case considered under new Chief Justice John Roberts … and sided with enviros (supported, this time, by the Bush administration). At issue was a Maine case hinging on wording in the Clean Water Act, which states that applicants for a federal license to operate a dam must first receive state certification if their activities “may result in any discharge into the navigable waters.” A paper mill that had been tangling with the state of Maine over water flows claimed that “discharge” referred only to pollution; the Supremes agreed with the Maine court that “discharge” refers to any water, and that the company should quit whining and release more water to increase flows downstream. The decision applies to dam operators on 500 rivers in 45 states. In other happy SCOTUS news, the Supremes decided to hear an appeal from green groups in the fall over a controversial decision that weakened pollution-control requirements at older power plants.