State Supreme Court Clarifies Procedures For Challenging A Water Pollution Permit

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court has held that a group opposed to a state-issued water pollution permit acted prematurely when they took their case to court, and should first complete appeals to the Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil, and Gas.

In 2008, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced its plan to grant a water pollution discharge permit to a quarry near Horse Creek in Hardin County. The trustees of a nearby wildlife sanctuary objected to the permit.

During the permit’s public comments period, the trustees claimed the permit was invalid because the Department had misinterpreted a key state regulation. Nevertheless, in 2009, the Department issued the permit.

The trustees appealed the permit to the Board of Water Quality, Oil, and Gas and also sought a ruling from the Davidson County Chancery Court that the Department had misinterpreted the regulation.

The administrative board put the appeal on hold while the trustees litigated in court. The Chancery Court agreed with the trustees that the Department was misinterpreting the regulation. The Department appealed, and the Court of Appeals sent the case back to the Chancery Court to reconsider its ruling. The trustees and the Department asked the Supreme Court to review the case.

In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court held that the Chancery Court should not have heard the trustees’ case. The Court considered the 2005 law that enables third parties like the trustees to directly appeal a water permit. The Court determined that this law requires third parties to finish their appeal with the administrative board before they can take their case to court. Because the administrative board has not yet heard the trustees’ appeal, the law did not allow them to preemptively seek a court order on an issue connected to the permit.

To read the Court’s opinion in E. Ron Pickard et al. v. Tennessee Water Quality Control Board et al., authored by Justice William C. Koch Jr., visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.


Special Supreme Court Denies Hooker's Petition To Rehear

The Tennessee Special Supreme Court has issued an order denying John Jay Hooker’s Petition to Rehear the case in which he challenged the constitutionality of the state’s judicial selection process. Mr. Hooker filed the petition with the Court March 27, seeking a rehearing on the issue of the constitutionality of the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) under the Tennessee ... (click for more)

Residential Broadband Adoption in Tennessee Surpasses National Average

Connected Tennessee today released new data showing that broadband adoption in Tennessee surpasses the national average, with 72% of households subscribing to broadband service in 2013, up from 43% in 2007. According to the Pew Research Center, the national broadband adoption rate in 2013 was 70%, which marks a 23-percentage point increase since 2007. “In 2007, Tennessee trailed ... (click for more)

Catoosa Man Convicted Of Sexual Abuse Of 5 Young Girls Gets Life Plus 250 Years

A Catoosa County man convicted of the sexual abuse of five young girls and possession of child pornography has been sentenced to life plus 250 years. James Martin Ferris, 34, was found guilty after a recent trial. The day after his conviction, Judge Ralph Van Pelt set the sentence. Ferris on June 5, 2013, was indicted by the Catoosa County Grand Jury on 46 counts.   ... (click for more)

Jury Finds Glover Not Guilty Of Attempted Aggravated Robbery

A Criminal Court jury on Tuesday night found 22-year-old Imari Glover not guilty of the charge of attempted aggravated robbery. The trial only lasted several hours, and the panel deliberated about two hours. According to police, Glover and two friends made plans to rob the Moe's Southwest Grill on Gunbarrel Road on Nov. 17, 2010. However, they were stopped by police ... (click for more)

Use The Current Rail System Already In Place - And Response

Why spend $20 million or more on an unproven system to run from the Southside of Chattanooga when we already have the beginnings of a system?  The question apparently has surfaced of why the Choo Choo City doesn't have a rail line. We do have a rail line with the Tennessee Valley RR Museum and their hardware. And they already make runs from the Southside to close to Enterprise ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Clemson Prayer And Much More

Clemson’s football program, which has won 11 games in each of the past two years and was ranked 8 th in the nation after whipping Ohio State in this year’s Orange Bowl, has just been “blind-sided.” The Freedom from Religion Foundation claims Coach Dabo Sweeney and his staff are doing far too much “to promote Christianity to their student athletes.” Clemson promptly roared back ... (click for more)