Joseph Retzer


This Article reviews the history of CWA Section 401 and finds that it supports affording EPA’s newest interpretive rule Chevron deference. The CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification Improvement Rule serves as an important case study of the doctrine which faces mounting criticisms and two cases challenging its legality in the Supreme Court at the time of this publication. Although its application delegates lawmaking authority to unelected officials who change policies with the tides of each election, this delegation has been necessary in many areas of the law due to Congress’s failure to act in recent years. Instead of simply surrendering the interpretation of ambiguous statutes to the judiciary, CWA Section 401 exemplifies the determination of deference owed to an agency’s interpretation through a close analysis of Congress’s intent, the agency’s previous actions, and the statutory language itself. Without addressing the merits of challenges to Chevron deference or predicting their outcomes, this Article reviews the legislative, rulemaking, and judicial history of CWA Section 401 and concludes that its history supports deference to the new rule when it is challenged in court.

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