(CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency did not violate federal environmental laws when it approved a list of endangered waters in Iowa, the 8th Circuit ruled, even though the list left out waters that fell below quality standards.
After establishing its water-quality standards, each state must compile list of waters that don’t meet those standards.
In 2004 Iowa left off bodies of water that had previously been listed on the basis that the original data were outdated. Its decision stemmed from the Iowa Credible Data Law, which required the state to dismiss data more than five years old when creating the water-quality list.
The Sierra Club and four individuals filed suit, challenging the EPA’s approval of Iowa’s list as a violation of the Clean Water Act.
The St. Louis-based appeals court disagreed, saying Iowa had provided a rationale for each body of water omitted from the list.
Under EPA regulations, states must only list waters that are threatened due to pollution, the court noted.
Iowa had left off 71 bodies of water because their endangered status was due to alterations in flow patterns or other reasons that weren’t related to pollution.
The EPA approved the list without invoking the state law or adopting the state’s methodology, the court explained. Federal regulators relied on Iowa’s raw data to approve the list.
The plaintiffs’ demand that the EPA rewrite the list is “counterproductive” to securing lists of endangered waters, Judge Melloy wrote.
The 8th Circuit upheld the lower court’s dismissal of the case.