Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

January 18, 2017

Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc., Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc., Catskill-Delaware Natural Water Alliance, Inc., Federated Sportsmen's Clubs of Ulster County, Inc., Riverkeeper, Inc., Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc., Trout Unlimited, Inc., National Wildlife Federation, Environment America, Environment New Hampshire, Environment Rhode Island, Environment Florida, State of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Washington, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
United States Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, in her official capacity as Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Defendants-Appellants-Cross Appellees, State of Colorado, State of New Mexico, State of Alaska, Arizona Department of Water Resources, State of Idaho, State of Nebraska, State of North Dakota, State of Nevada, State of Texas, State of Utah, State of Wyoming, Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, City and County of Denver, by and through its Board of Water Commissioners, City and County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, City of Boulder [Colorado], City of Aurora [Colorado], El Dorado Irrigation District, Idaho Water Users Association, Imperial Irrigation District, Kane County [Utah] Water Conservancy District, Las Vegas Valley Water District, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, National Water Resources Association, Salt Lake & Sandy [Utah] Metropolitan Water District, Salt River Project, San Diego County Water Authority, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, The City of Colorado Springs, acting by and through its enterprise Colorado Springs Utilities, Washington County [Utah] Water District, Western Urban Water Coalition, [California] State Water Contractors, City of New York, Intervenor Defendants-Appellants-Cross Appellees, Government of the Province of Manitoba, Canada, Consolidated Plaintiff-Appellee, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, Friends of the Everglades, Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Intervenor Plaintiffs-Appellees, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Intervenor Defendant,
v.
South Florida Water Management District, Intervenor Defendant-Appellant-Cross Appellant.

          Argued: December 1, 2015

         In 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency promulgated the "Water Transfers Rule, " which formalized the Agency's longstanding position that water transfers are not subject to regulation under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting program established decades ago by the Clean Water Act. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs, a consortium of environmental conservation and sporting organizations and several state, provincial, and tribal governments, challenged the Water Transfers Rule by bringing suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Agency and its Administrator. After a variety of persons and entities on both sides of the issue intervened, the district court (Kenneth M. Karas, Judge) granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs on the ground that the Water Transfers Rule, although entitled to deferential review under the two-step framework established by Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), could not survive judicial scrutiny because it was based on an unreasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act. The district court accordingly vacated the Water Transfers Rule and remanded it to the Agency for further assessment. We conclude that the Water Transfers Rule is based on a reasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act and therefore entitled to Chevron deference. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is REVERSED.

          BARBARA D. UNDERWOOD, Solicitor General (Steven C. Wu, Deputy Solicitor General; Judith N. Vale, Assistant Solicitor General; Lemuel Srolovic, Bureau Chief; Philip Bein, Watershed Inspector General; Meredith Lee-Clark, Assistant Attorney General, Environmental Protection Bureau, on the brief), for Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York, New York, New York, for Plaintiffs-Appellees the States of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington, and the Province of Manitoba.

          Daniel E. Estrin, Karl S. Coplan, Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, Inc., White Plains, New York, (on the brief), for Plaintiffs- Appellees Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc., Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc., Catskill-Delaware Natural Water Alliance, Inc., Federated Sportsmen's Clubs of Ulster County, Inc., Riverkeeper, Inc., Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc., Trout Unlimited, Inc., National Wildlife Federation, Environment America, Environment New Hampshire, Environment Rhode Island, and Environment Florida.

          Yinet Pino, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, Miami, Florida; David G. Guest, Earthjustice, Tallahassee, Florida, (on the brief), for Intervenor Plaintiffs-Appellees Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, Friends of the Everglades, Florida Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club.

          ROBERT WILLIAM YALEN (Benjamin H. Torrance, on the briefs), for Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, for Defendants- Appellants United States Environmental Protection Agency and Gina McCarthy.

          PETER D. NICHOLS, Berg Hill Greenleaf & Ruscitti LLP, Boulder, Colorado (Don Baur & Paul Smyth, Perkins Coie LLP, Washington, District of Columbia, on the brief), for Intervenor Defendants-Appellants- Cross Appellees Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, City and County of Denver, by and through its Board of Water Commissioners, City and County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, City of Boulder [Colorado], City of Aurora [Colorado], El Dorado Irrigation District, Idaho Water Users Association, Imperial Irrigation District, Kane County [Utah] Water Conservancy District, Las Vegas Valley Water District, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, National Water Resources Association, Salt Lake & Sandy [Utah] Metropolitan Water District, Salt River Project, San Diego County Water Authority, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, The City of Colorado Springs, Acting by and through its Enterprise Colorado Springs Utilities, Washington County [Utah] Water District, Western Urban Water Coalition, and [California] State Water Contractors. [1]

          JULIE STEINER (Larry Sonnenshein & Hilary Meltzer, on the briefs), for Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, New York, New York, for Intervenor Defendant-Appellant-Cross Appellee City of New York.

          JAMES EDWARD NUTT, South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Intervenor Defendant- Appellant-Cross-Appellant South Florida Water Management District.

          Annette M. Quill, Senior Assistant Attorney General, State of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, (on the briefs), for Intervenor-Defendants-Appellants-Cross Appellees States of Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, Arizona (Department of Water Resources), Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

          Ellen B. Steen, Danielle Hallcom Quist, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, District of Columbia; Staci Braswell, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Gainesville, Florida; Timothy S. Bishop, Michael B. Kimberly, Mayer Brown LLP, Washington, District of Columbia, (on the brief), for Amici Curiae-American Farm Bureau Federation and Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

          Laura Murphy & Patrick Parenteau, Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, Vermont, (on the brief), for Amici Curiae-Leon G. Billings, Tom Jorling, Jeffrey G. Miller, Robert W. Adler, William Andreen, Harrison C. Dunning, Mark Squillace, and Sandra B. Zellmer.

          Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General; Robert W. Byrne, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Gavin G. McCabe, Supervising Deputy Attorney General; William Jenkins, Deputy Attorney General; State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, San Francisco, California, (on the brief), for Amicus Curiae- State of California by and through the California Department of Water Resources.

          Michael A. Swiger, Charles R. Sensiba, Sharon L. White, Van Ness Feldman, LLP, Washington, District of Columbia, (on the brief), for Amici Curiae-National Hydropower Association, Northwest Hydroelectric Association, American Public Power Association, Sabine River Authority of Texas, Sabine River Authority State of Louisiana, and Oglethorpe Power Corporation.

          Before: Sack, Chin, and Carney, Circuit Judges.

          Sack, Circuit Judge

         "Water, water, everywhere / Nor any drop to drink."[2]

         Because New York City cannot tap the rivers, bays, and ocean that inhabit, surround, or, on occasion, inundate it to slake the thirst of its many millions of residents, it must instead draw water primarily from remote areas north of the City, mainly the Catskill Mountain/Delaware River watershed west of the Hudson River, and the Croton Watershed east of the Hudson River and closer to New York City.[3] Water is drawn from the Schoharie Reservoir[4] through the eighteen-mile-long Shandaken Tunnel into the Esopus Creek. The Creek's water, in turn, flows into another reservoir, then through an aqueduct, and then through several more reservoirs and tunnels alongside the Hudson River, having crossed the River to its Eastern shore some 50 miles north of New York City. Eventually, it arrives at its final destination: the many taps, faucets, and the like within the City's five boroughs.

         The movement of water from the Schoharie Reservoir through the Shandaken Tunnel into the Esopus Creek is what is known as a "water transfer, " an activity that conveys or connects waters of the United States without subjecting those waters to any intervening industrial, municipal, or commercial use. Water transfers are an integral part of America's water-supply infrastructure, of which the Schoharie Reservoir system is but a very small part. Each year, thousands of water transfers are employed in the course of bringing water to homes, farms, and factories not only in the occasionally rain-soaked Eastern, Southern, and Middle- and North-Western portions of the country, but also in the arid West (including large portions of the Southwest). Usable bodies of water in the West tend to be scarce, and most precipitation there falls as snow, often in sparsely populated areas at considerable distance from their water authorities' urban and agricultural clientele.

         Historically, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (the "EPA") has taken a hands-off approach to water transfers, choosing not to subject them to the requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") permitting program established by the Clean Water Act in 1972. Some have criticized the EPA for this approach. They argue that like ballast water in ships, [5] water transfers can move harmful pollutants from one body of water to another, potentially putting local ecosystems, economies, and public health at risk. While acknowledging these concerns, the EPA has held fast to its position. Indeed, following many lawsuits seeking to establish whether NPDES permits are required for water transfers, the EPA formalized its stance in 2008- more than three decades after the passage of the Clean Water Act-in a rule known as the "Water Transfers Rule."

         Shortly thereafter, several environmentalist organizations and state, provincial and tribal governments challenged the Rule by bringing suit against the EPA and its Administrator in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. After many entities-governmental, tribal, and private-intervened on either side of the case, the district court (Kenneth M. Karas, Judge) granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, vacating the Rule and remanding the matter to the EPA. In a thorough, closely reasoned, and detailed opinion, the district court concluded that although Chevron deference is applicable and requires the courts to defer to the EPA and uphold the Rule if it is reasonable, the Rule represented an unreasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act, and was therefore invalid under the deferential two-step framework for judicial review established in Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). The court held that the Rule was contrary to the requirements established by the Act.

         The Federal Government and the intervenor-defendants timely appealed. Despite the district court's herculean efforts and its careful and exhaustive explanation for the result it reached, we now reverse for the reasons set forth below.

         At step one of the Chevron analysis, we conclude-as did the district court-that the Clean Water Act does not speak directly to the precise question of whether NPDES permits are required for water transfers, and that it is therefore necessary to proceed to Chevron's second step. At step two of the Chevron analysis, we conclude-contrary to the district court-that the Water Transfers Rule's interpretation of the Clean Water Act is reasonable. We view the EPA's promulgation of the Water Transfers Rule here as precisely the sort of policymaking decision that the Supreme Court designed the Chevron framework to insulate from judicial second- (or third-) guessing. It may well be that, as the plaintiffs argue, the Water Transfers Rule's interpretation of the Clean Water Act is not the interpretation best designed to achieve the Act's overall goal of restoring and protecting the quality of the nation's waters. But it is nonetheless an interpretation supported by valid considerations: The Act does not require that water quality be improved whatever the cost or means, and the Rule preserves state authority over many aspects of water regulation, gives regulators flexibility to balance the need to improve water quality with the potentially high costs of compliance with an NPDES permitting program, and allows for several alternative means for regulating water transfers. While we might prefer an interpretation more consistent with what appear to us to be the most prominent goals of the Clean Water Act, Chevron tells us that so long as the agency's statutory interpretation is reasonable, what we might prefer is irrelevant.

          BACKGROUND[6]

         The Clean Water Act and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") Permitting Program

         In 1972, following several events such as the 1969 "burning" of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio[7] that increased national concern about pollution of our nation's waters, Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act ("FWPCA") Amendments of 1972, 86 Stat. 816, as amended, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq, commonly known as the Clean Water Act (sometimes hereinafter the "Act" or the "CWA"). Congress's principal objective in passing the Act was "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." 33 U.S.C. § 1251(a). Congress also envisioned that the Act's passage would enable "the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters [to] be eliminated by 1985." Id. § 1251(a)(1). Although time has proven this projection to have been over-optimistic at best, it is our understanding that the Act has succeeded to a significant degree in cleaning up our nation's waters.

         The Act "prohibits 'the discharge of any pollutant by any person' unless done in compliance with some provision of the Act." S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist. v. Miccosukee Tribe, 541 U.S. 95, 102 ("Miccosukee") (quoting 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a)). The statute defines the discharge of a pollutant as "any addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source, "[8] 33 U.S.C. § 1362(12)(A), where "navigable waters" means "the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas/ id. § 1362(7). The principal provision under which such a discharge may be allowed is Section 402, which establishes the "National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System" ("NPDES") permitting program. 33 U.S.C. § 1342. With narrow exceptions not relevant here, a party must acquire an NPDES permit in order to discharge a specified amount of a specified pollutant. See id.; Miccosukee, 541 U.S. at 102. Thus, without an NPDES permit, it is unlawful for a party to discharge a pollutant into the nation's navigable waters.

         "[B]y setting forth technology-based effluent limitations and, in certain cases, additional water quality based effluent limitations[, ]the NPDES permit 'defines, and facilitates compliance with, and enforcement of, a preponderance of a discharger's obligations under the [Act].'" Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc. v. EPA, 399 F.3d 486, 492 (2d Cir. 2005) (third brackets in original) (quoting EPA v. California ex rel. State Water Res. Control Bd., 426 U.S. 200, 205 (1976)). Noncompliance with an NPDES permit's conditions is a violation of the Clean Water Act. 33 U.S.C. § 1342(h). Once an NPDES permit has been issued, the EPA, states, and citizens can bring suit in federal court to enforce it. See id. §§ 1319(a)(3), 1365(a).

          The Act envisions "cooperative federalism" in the management of the nation's water resources. See, e.g., New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 167 (1992) (referring to the Act as an example of "cooperative federalism"); Arkansas v. Oklahoma, 503 U.S. 91, 101 (1992) (the Act "anticipates a partnership between the States and the Federal Government"). Reflecting that approach, states typically control the NPDES permitting programs as they apply to waters within their borders, subject to EPA approval. See 33 U.S.C. §§ 1314(i)(2), 1342(b)-(c).[9] The Act also preserves states' "primary responsibilities and rights" to abate pollution, id. § 1251(b), including their traditional prerogatives to "plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation, and enhancement) of . . . water resources, " id., and to "allocate quantities of water within [their] jurisdiction, " id. § 1251(g), [10] subject to the federal floor on environmental protection set by the Act and regulations promulgated thereunder by the EPA, see Nat. Res. Def. Council v. EPA, 808 F.3d 556, 580 (2d Cir. 2015).

         Water Transfers and the Water Transfers Rule[11]

         According to EPA regulations, a "water transfer" is "an activity that conveys or connects waters of the United States without subjecting the transferred water to intervening industrial, municipal, or commercial use." 40 C.F.R. § 122.3(i). Water transfers take a variety of forms. A transfer may be accomplished, for example, through artificial tunnels and channels, or natural streams and water bodies; and through active pumping or passive direction. There are thousands of water transfers currently in place in the United States, including at least sixteen major diversion projects west of the Mississippi River. Many of the largest U.S. cities draw on water transfers to bring drinkable water to their residents. The City of New York's "water supply system . . . relies on transfers of water among its [nineteen] collecting reservoirs. The City provides approximately 1.2 billion gallons of . . . water a day to nine million people- nearly half of the population of New York State." Letter Dated August 7, 2006, from Mark D. Hoffer, General Counsel, City of New York Department of Environmental Protection to EPA, at 1, J.A. at 331.

         The parties and amici tell us that water transfers are of special significance in the Western United States. Because much precipitation in the West falls as snow, water authorities there must capture water when and where the snow falls and melts, typically in remote and sparsely populated areas, and then transport it to agricultural and urban sites where it is most needed. See Western States Br. 1-2; see also State of California Amicus Br. 16 n.5. Colorado, for example, engages in over forty interbasin diversions in order to serve the State's water needs. See Letter Dated July 17, 2006, from Brian N. Nazarenus, Chair, Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, to Water Docket, EPA, at 1, J.A. at 320. California uses the "California State Water Project, " a complex water delivery system based on interbasin transfers from Northern California to Southern California, to serve the water needs of 25 million of its 37 million residents. See State of California Amicus Br. 3-10. Water transfers are also obviously crucial to agriculture, conveying water to enormously important farming regions such as the Central and Imperial Valleys of California, Weld and Larimer Counties in Colorado, the Snake River Valley of Idaho, and the Yakima Valley of Washington. See Water Districts Br. 16-19.

         At the same time, though, water transfers, like ballast water in ships, see generally Nat. Res. Def. Council 808 F.3d at 561-62, can move pollutants from one body of water to another, potentially endangering ecosystems, portions of the economy, and public health near the receiving water body-and possibly beyond. Despite these risks, for many years the EPA has taken a passive approach to regulating water transfers, effectively exempting them from the NPDES permitting system. The States have also generally adopted a hands-off policy[12]

         During the 1990s and 2000s, prior to its codification in the Water Transfers Rule, the EPA's position was challenged by, among others, environmentalist groups, which filed several successful lawsuits asserting that NPDES permits were required for some specified water transfers. See, e.g., Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. City of New York, 451 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 2006) ('Catskill II), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 1252 (2007); N Plains Res. Council v. Fid. Expl. & Dev. Co., 325 F.3d 1155 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 124 S.Ct. 434 (2003); Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. City of New York, 273 F.3d 481 (2d Cir. 2001) ("Catskill I); see also Dubois v. U.S. Dept of Agric, 102 F.3d 1273 (1st Cir. 1996), cert. denied sub nom. Loon Mountain Recreation Corp. v. Dubois, 521 U.S. 1119 (1997). None of these decisions classified the EPA's views on the regulation of water transfers as sufficiently formal to warrant Chevron deference. See, e.g., Catskill II, 451 F.3d at 82 (declining to apply Chevron deference framework); Catskill I, 273 F.3d at 491 (same).

         In response, the EPA took steps to formalize its position. In August 2005, the EPA's Office of General Counsel and Office of Water issued a legal memorandum written by then-EPA General Counsel Ann R. Klee (the "Klee Memorandum") that argued that Congress did not intend for water transfers to be subject to the NPDES permitting program. The EPA proposed a formal rule incorporating this interpretation on June 7, 2006, 71 Fed. Reg. 32, 887, and then, following notice-and-comment rulemaking proceedings, on June 13, 2008, adopted a final rule entitled "National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Water Transfers Rule" (the "Water Transfers Rule"), 73 Fed. Reg. 33, 697-708 (June 13, 2008) (codified at 40 C.F.R. § 122.3(i)).

The Water Transfers Rule's summary states:
EPA is issuing a regulation to clarify that water transfers are not subject to regulation under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program. This rule defines water transfers as an activity that conveys or connects waters of the United States without subjecting the transferred water to intervening industrial, municipal, or commercial use. This rule focuses exclusively on water transfers and does not affect any other activity that may be subject to NPDES permitting requirements.

Id. at 33, 697.

         The Rule states that water transfers "do not require NPDES permits because they do not result in the 'addition' of a pollutant."[13] Id. at 33, 699. No NPDES permit is required if "the water being conveyed [is] a water of the U.S. prior to being discharged to the receiving waterbody" and the water is transferred "from one water of the U.S. to another water of the U.S."[14] Id. (footnote omitted). Thus, even if a water transfer conveys waters in which pollutants are present, it does not result in an "addition" to "the waters of the United States/ because the pollutant is already present in "the waters of the United States." Under the EPA's view, an "addition" of a pollutant under the Act occurs only "when pollutants are introduced from outside the waters being transferred." Id. at 33, 701. On appeal-but not in the Water Transfers Rule itself-the EPA characterizes this interpretation of Section 402 of the Clean Water Act as embracing what is often referred to as the "unitary-waters" reading of the statutory language, see EPA Br. 15-16, 54, which we will discuss further below.

         In the Water Transfers Rule, the EPA justified its interpretation of the Act in an explanation spanning nearly four pages of the Federal Register, touching on the text of Section 402, the structure of the Act, and pertinent legislative history. See Water Transfers Rule, 73 Fed. Reg. at 33, 700-03. The EPA explained that its "holistic approach to the text" of the statute was "needed here in particular because the heart of this matter is the balance Congress created between federal and State oversight of activities affecting the nation's waters." Id. at 33, 701. The agency also responded to a wide variety of public comments on the proposed Rule. See id. at 33, 703-06.

         District Court Proceedings

         On June 20, 2008, a group of environmental conservation and sporting organizations filed a complaint against the EPA and its Administrator (then Stephen L. Johnson, now Gina McCarthy) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The States of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Washington, and the Province of Manitoba, Canada (collectively, the "Anti-Rule States") did the same on October 2, 2008. In their complaints, the plaintiffs requested that the district court hold unlawful and set aside the Water Transfers Rule pursuant to Section 706(2) of the Administrative Procedure Act (the "APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 706(2).[15] In October 2008, the district court consolidated the two cases and granted a motion by the City of New York to intervene in support of the defendants.

          At about the same time these actions were filed, five parallel petitions for review of the Water Transfers Rule were filed in the First, Second, and Eleventh Circuits. On July 22, 2008, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these petitions and randomly assigned them to the Eleventh Circuit. The Eleventh Circuit then consolidated a sixth petition for review, and stayed all of these petitions pending its disposition of Friends of the Everglades v. South Florida Water Management District, No. 07-13829-HH (11th Cir.) ("Friends I), a separate but conceptually related case. The district court in the case now before us granted the EPA's motion to stay the proceedings pending the Eleventh Circuit's resolution of Friends I and the six consolidated petitions. See Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. EPA, 630 F.Supp.2d 295, 307 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). In June 2009, the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision in Friends I, 570 F.3d 1210 (11th Cir. 2009), reh'g en banc denied, 605 F.3d 962 (2010), cert. denied, 562 U.S. 1082, and cert. denied sub nom. Miccosukee Tribe v. S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist, 562 U.S. 1082 (2010), according Chevron deference to, and upholding, the Water Transfers Rule. Id. at 1227-28. Then, on October 26, 2012, the Circuit issued a decision dismissing the six consolidated petitions for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under 33 U.S.C. § 1369(b)(1). Friends of the Everglades v. EPA, 699 F.3d 1280, 1286, 1289 (11th Cir. 2012) ("Friends II), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 421, and cert. denied sub nom. U.S. Sugar Corp. v. Friends of the Everglades, 134 S.Ct. 422, and cert. denied sub nom. S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist. v. Friends of the Everglades, 134 S.Ct. 422 (2013). The district court in the case at bar lifted the stay on December 17, 2012, the date the Eleventh Circuit's mandate in Friends II was issued.

         On January 30, 2013, the district court granted multiple applications on consent to intervene as plaintiffs and defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. This added as intervenor-plaintiffs the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, Friends of the Everglades, the Florida Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club, and as intervenor-defendants the States of Alaska, Arizona (Department of Water Resources), Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, and various municipal water providers from Western states. The parties filed multiple motions and cross-motions for summary judgment.

         On March 28, 2014, the district court granted the plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment and denied the defendants' cross-motions. Catskill Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc. v. EPA, 8 F.Supp.3d 500 (S.D.N.Y. 2014). At the first step of the Chevron analysis, the district court decided that the Clean Water Act is ambiguous as to whether Congress intended the NPDES program to apply to water transfers. Id. at 518-32. The district court then proceeded to the second step of the Chevron analysis, at which it struck down the Water Transfers Rule as an unreasonable interpretation of the Act. Id. at 532-67.

         The defendants and intervenor-defendants other than the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (hereinafter "the defendants") timely appealed.

         DISCUSSION

         "On appeal from a grant of summary judgment in a challenge to agency action under the APA, we review the administrative record and the district court's decision de novo." Bellevue Hosp. Ctr. v. Leavitt, 443 F.3d 163, 173"74 (2d Cir. 2006). We conclude that the Water Transfers Rule is a reasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act and is therefore entitled to Chevron deference. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the district court.

         We evaluate challenges to an agency's interpretation of a statute that it administers within the two-step Chevron deference framework. Lawrence Mem'l Hosp. v. Burwell, 812 F.3d 257, 264 (2d Cir. 2016). At Chevron Step One, we ask "whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue. If the intent of Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter; for the court, as well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress." Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842-43. If the statutory language is "silent or ambiguous, " however, we proceed to Chevron Step Two, where "the question for the court is whether the agency's answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute" at issue. Id. at 843. If it is-i.e., if it is not "arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute, " id. at 844-we will accord deference to the agency's interpretation of the statute so long as it is supported by a reasoned explanation, and "so long as the construction is 'a reasonable policy choice for the agency to make, '" Nat'l Cable & Telecomms. Ass'n v. Brand X Internet Servs., 545 U.S. 967, 986 (2005) ('Brand X") (quoting Chevron, 467 U.S. at 845).

         This framework has been fashioned as a means for the proper resolution of administrative-law disputes that involve all three branches of the Federal Government, seriatim.

         First, the Legislative Branch, Congress, passes a bill that reflects its judgment on the issue-in the case before us, the Clean Water Act. After the head of the Executive Branch, the President, signs that bill, it becomes the law of the land.

          Second, the Executive Branch, if given the authority to do so by legislation, may address the issue through its authorized administrative agency or agencies, typically although not necessarily by regulation-in this case the EPA through its Water Transfer Rule. In doing so, the executive agency must defer to the Legislative Branch by following the law or laws that it has enacted and that cover the matter.

         Only last, in case of a challenge to the Legislative Branch's authority to pass the law, or to the Executive Branch's authority to administer it in the manner that it has chosen to adopt, may we in the Judicial Branch become involved in the process. When we do so, though, we are not only last, we are least: We must defer both to the Legislative Branch by refraining from reviewing Congress's legislative work beyond determining what the statute at issue means and whether it is constitutional, and to the Executive Branch by using the various principles of deference, including Chevron deference, which we conclude is applicable in the case at bar. For us to decide for ourselves what in fact is the preferable route for addressing the substantive problem at hand would be directly contrary to this constitutional scheme. What we may think to be the best or wisest resolution of problems of water transfers and pollution emphatically does not matter.

         Abiding by this constitutional scheme, we begin at Chevron Step One. We conclude, as did the district court, that Congress did not in the Clean Water Act clearly and unambiguously speak to the precise question of whether NPDES permits are required for water transfers. It is therefore necessary to proceed to Chevron Step Two, under which we conclude that the EPA's interpretation of the Act in the Water Transfers Rule represents a reasonable policy choice to which we must defer. The question is whether the Clean Water Act can support the EPA's interpretation, taking into account the full panoply of interpretive considerations advanced by the parties. Ultimately, we conclude that the Water Transfers Rule satisfies Chevron's deferential standard of review because it is supported by a reasoned explanation that sets forth a reasonable interpretation of the Act.

         I. Chevron Step One

         At Chevron Step One, "the [reviewing] court must determine 'whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue. If the intent of Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter; for the court, as well as the agency, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.'" City of Arlington v. FCC, 133 S.Ct. 1863, 1868 (2014) (quoting Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842-43). To determine whether a statute is ambiguous, we employ "traditional tools of statutory construction" to ascertain if "Congress had an intention on the precise question at issue" that "must be given effect." Chevron, 467 U.S. at 843 n.9.

         The issue before us at this point, then, is whether the Act plainly requires a party to acquire an NPDES permit in order to make a water transfer. We agree with the district court that the Clean Water Act does not clearly and unambiguously speak to that question. We will begin, however, by addressing the plaintiffs' argument that we previously held otherwise in Catskill I, 273 F.3d 481 (2d Cir. 2001), and Catskill II, 451 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 2006).

         A. Catskill I and Catskill II

         The plaintiffs argue that this case can be resolved at Chevron Step One because we held in Catskill I and Catskill II that the Clean Water Act unambiguously requires NPDES permits for water transfers. We disagree with the plaintiffs' reading of those decisions because our application there of the deference standard set forth in Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1944), and United States v. Mead Corp., 533 U.S. 218 (2001)-so-called "Skidmore" or "Skidmore/Mead" deference-and the reasoning underlying the decisions make clear that we have not previously held that the statutory language at issue here is unambiguous, such that we cannot defer under Chevron to the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Water Act in the Water Transfers Rule.

         In Catskill I we held that that the City of New York[16] violated the Clean Water Act by transferring turbid water[17] from the Schoharie Reservoir through the Shandaken Tunnel into the Esopus Creek without an NPDES permit, because the transfer of turbid water into the Esopus Creek was an "addition" of a pollutant. 273 F.3d at 489-94. Following our remand in Catskill I, the district court assessed a $5, 749, 000 civil penalty against New York City and ordered the City to obtain a permit for the operation of the Shandaken Tunnel. The City's appeal from that ruling was resolved in Catskill II, in which we reaffirmed the holding of Catskill I. Catskill II, 451 F.3d at 79.

         In both Catskill I and Catskill II, we applied the Skidmore deference standard to informal policy statements by the EPA that interpreted the same provision of the Act at issue here not to require NPDES permits for water transfers. See id. at 83-84 & n.5 (noting that under Skidmore "[w]e . . . defer to the agency interpretation according to its 'power to persuade'" and "declin[ing] to defer to the EPA['s]" informal interpretation of the CWA as expressed in the Klee Memorandum (quoting Mead, 533 U.S. at 235)); Catskill I, 273 F.3d at 490-91 (applying Skidmore to the EPA's position as expressed in informal policy statements and litigation positions, and concluding that "we do not find the EPA's position to be persuasive"). Skidmore instructs that "the rulings, interpretations and opinions" of an agency may constitute "a body of experience and informed judgment to which courts and litigants may properly resort for guidance." Skidmore, 323 U.S. at 140. The appropriate level of deference accorded to an agency's interpretation of a statute under the Skidmore standard depends on the interpretation's "power to persuade, ' which in turn depends on, inter alia, "the thoroughness evident in its consideration, the validity of its reasoning, [and] its consistency with earlier and later pronouncements." Id. This "approach has produced a spectrum of judicial responses, from great respect at one end, to near indifference at the other." Mead, 533 U.S. at 228 (internal citations omitted).[18]

          Although the Chevron and Skidmore deference standards differ in application, they are similar in one respect: As with Chevron deference, we will defer to the agency's interpretation under the Skidmore standard only when the statutory language at issue is ambiguous. See, e.g., Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., 552 U.S. 312, 326 (2008) (suggesting that it is "unnecessary" to engage in Skidmore analysis if "the statute itself speaks clearly to the point at issue"); Exxon Mobil Corp. & Affiliated Cos. v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 689 F.3d 191, 200 n.13 (2d Cir. 2012) (explaining that Skidmore analysis applies to "an agency's interpretation of an ambiguous statute"); Wong v. Doar, 571 F.3d 247, 258 (2d Cir. 2009) (concluding that "Congress did not speak directly to the issue" before proceeding to apply Skidmore deference); see also Gen. Dynamics Land Sys., Inc. v. Cline, 540 U.S. 581, 600 (2004) ("[D]eference to [an agency's] statutory interpretation is called for only when the devices of judicial construction have been tried and found to yield no clear sense of congressional intent."); High Sierra Hikers Ass'n v. Blackwell, 390 F.3d 630, 638 (9th Cir. 2004) ("If the statute is clear and unambiguous, no deference is required and the plain meaning of Congress will be enforced."). As commentators have noted, although the Supreme Court has not explicitly stated "that Skidmore necessarily includes a 'step one' inquiry along the lines of Chevron [S]tep [O]ne[, ] . . . in practice, Skidmore generally does include a 'step one, " in which a court "first review[s] the statute for a plain meaning [to] determine] [whether] the statute [is] ambiguous." Kristin E. Hickman & Matthew D. Krueger, In Search of the Modern Skidmore Standard, 107 Colum. L. Rev. 1235, 1280 (2007) (collecting cases).

         But as the dissent correctly notes, see Dissent at 21-22, it does not follow that a particular application of the Skidmore framework implies a threshold conclusion that the relevant statutory language is ambiguous. Although a court could first conclude that the text is unambiguous-and therefore that Skidmore deference is inappropriate or unnecessary[19]it could instead engage in Skidmore analysis without answering this threshold question by considering the statutory text as one of several factors relevant to determining whether the agency interpretation has the "power to persuade." Skidmore, 323 U.S. at 140. Yet even under this approach, courts will not rely on agency interpretations that are inconsistent with unambiguous statutory language. See, e.g., EEOC v. Arabian American Oil, 499 U.S. 244, 257 (1991) (declining to rely on an agency interpretation that "lack[ed] support in the plain language of the statute" after considering the statutory language as one of several factors relevant to Skidmore analysis).[20] Thus, regardless of whether or not a court makes a threshold ambiguity determination, "the Skidmore standard implicitly replicates Chevron's first step." Hickman & Krueger, supra, at 1247.

         Our application of the Skidmore deference standard in Catskill I and Catskill II makes clear that we did not decide and have not decided that the statutory language at issue in this case-"addition . . . to navigable waters"-is unambiguous. Although we did not explicitly conclude in those cases that the statutory text was ambiguous, we made clear that we did not intend to foreclose the EPA from adopting a unitary-waters reading of the Act (i.e., waters of the United States means all of those waters rather than each of them) in a formal rule; indeed, we stated in Catskill I that »[i]f the EPA's position had been adopted in a rulemaking or other formal proceeding, [Chevron] deference . . . might be appropriate." Catskill I, 273 F.3d at 490-91 & n.2. This statement implies that we thought the relevant statutory text was at least possibly ambiguous.

         The few references to "plain meaning" in Catskill I and Catskill II do not compel a different conclusion. The crucial interpretive question framed by Catskill I -which we identified as the "crux" of the appeal-was "the meaning of 'addition, which the Act does not define." Id. at 486. As the dissent points out, see Dissent at 25-27, we concluded in Catskill I that, based on the "plain meaning" of that term, the transfer of turbid water resulted in "an 'addition' of a 'pollutant' from a 'point source'[21] . . . to a 'navigable water.'" Catskill I, 273 F.3d at 492.[22] We do not, however, think that by referring to the "plain meaning" of "addition" in Catskill I we were holding that the broader statutory phrase "addition . . . to navigable waters" unambiguously referred to a collection of individual "navigable waters"-such that the term "to navigable waters" could possibly mean only "to a navigable water" or "to any navigable water, " and not to "navigable waters" in the collective singular (i.e., "all the qualifying navigable waters viewed as a single, 'unitary' entity"). Nowhere in Catskill I did we state that "navigable waters" or the broader phrase "addition . . . to navigable waters" could bear only one meaning based on the unambiguous language contained in the statute. Such a statement would have been inconsistent with our acknowledgment that Chevron deference might be owed to a more formal agency interpretation.

         Nor did we make any such statement in Catskill II. There, we began by succinctly summarizing Catskill I as "concluding that the discharge of water containing pollutants from one distinct water body into another is an 'addition of [a] pollutant' under the CWA." Catskill II, 451 F.3d at 80 (brackets in original) (citing Catskill I, 273 F.3d at 491-93). We then again rejected the City's arguments in favor of reconsidering Catskill I, including its argument in favor of the "unitary-water theory of navigable waters, ' essentially for the reasons stated in Catskill I -most importantly, that these arguments "simply overlooked]" the "plain language" and "ordinary meaning" of the term "addition." Id. at 81-84. We also noted that in the then-recent Miccosukee decision, the Supreme Court noted the existence of the unitary-waters theory and raised possible arguments against it, providing further support for our rejection of the theory in Catskill I. Catskill II , 451 F.3d at 83 (citing Miccosukee, 541 U.S. at 105-09). Nowhere did we state that the phrase "addition . . . to navigable waters" was unambiguous such that it would preclude Chevron deference in the event that the EPA adopted a formal rule. We held only that the EPA's position, as expressed in an informal interpretation, was unpersuasive under the Skidmore framework. Id. at 83 & n.5 (noting that under Skidmore "[w]e . . . defer to the agency interpretation according to its 'power to persuade'" and "declin[ing] to defer to the EPA" under that standard (quoting Mead, 533 U.S. at 235)).

          The best interpretation of Catskill I and Catskill II, we think, is that those decisions set forth what those panels saw as the most persuasive reading of the phrase "addition . . . to navigable waters" in light of how the word "addition" is plainly and ordinarily understood. Catskill I and Catskill II did not hold that "addition . . . to navigable waters" could bear only one meaning, such that the EPA could not interpret the phrase differently in an interpretive rule. Therefore, as the district court concluded, neither Catskill I nor Catskill II requires us to resolve this appeal at Chevron Step One.

         B. Statutory Text, Structure, and Purpose

         Having determined that the meaning of the relevant provision of the Clean Water Act has not been resolved by prior case law, we turn to the overall statute and its context. In evaluating whether Congress has directly spoken to whether NPDES permits are required for water transfers, we employ the "traditional tools of statutory construction." Li v. Renaud, 654 F.3d 376, 382 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Chevron, 467 U.S. at 843 n.9). We examine the statutory text, structure, and purpose as reflected in its legislative history. See id. If the statutory text is ambiguous, we also examine canons of statutory construction. See Lawrence Mem'l Hosp., 812 F.3d at 264; see also Am. Farm Bureau Fed'n v. EPA, 792 F.3d 281, 301 (3d Cir. 2015), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 1246 (2016); Heino v. Shinseki, 683 F.3d 1372, 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2012); EEOC v. Seafarers Int'l Union, 394 F.3d 197, 203 (4th Cir. 2005).

         1. Statutory text and structure.

         "As with any question of statutory interpretation, we begin with the text of the statute to determine whether the language at issue has a plain and unambiguous meaning." Louis Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. LY USA, Inc., 676 F.3d 83, 108 (2d Cir. 2012). The statutory language at issue is found in Sections 301, 402, and 502 of the Clean Water Act. Section 301(a) states that "[e]xcept as in compliance with [the Act], the discharge of any pollutant by any person shall be unlawful." 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a). Section 402(a)(1) states that the EPA may issue an NPDES permit allowing the "discharge of any pollutant, or combination of pollutants, notwithstanding [Section 301(a)], " so long as the discharge meets certain requirements specified by the Clean Water Act and the permit. See id. § 1342(a)(1). Section 502 defines the term "discharge of a pollutant, " in relevant part, as "any addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source." Id. § 1362(12). Section 502 also defines the term "navigable waters" as "the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas." Id. § 1362(7). But nowhere do these provisions speak directly to the question of whether an NPDES permit may be required for a water transfer.

         Nor is the meaning of the relevant statutory text plain. The question, as we have indicated above, is whether "addition of any pollutant to navigable waters"-or, "addition of any pollutant to the waters of the United States"-refers to all navigable waters, meaning all of the waters of the United States viewed as a singular whole, or to individual navigable waters, meaning one of the waters of the United States. The term "waters" may be used in either sense: As the Eleventh Circuit observed, "[i]n ordinary usage 'waters' can collectively refer to several different bodies of water such as 'the waters of the Gulf coast, ' or can refer to any one body of water such as 'the waters of Mobile Bay.'" Friends I, 570 F.3d at 1223. The Supreme Court too has noted that the phrase "[w]aters of the United States, " as used in Section 502, is "in some respects ambiguous." Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715, 752 (2006) (internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis removed). The statutory text yields no clear answer to the question before us; it could support either of the interpretations proposed by the parties.[23] Thus, based on the text alone, we remain at sea.

         Unfortunately, placing this statutory language in the broader context of the Act as a whole does not help either. A statutory provision's plain meaning may be "understood by looking to the statutory scheme as a whole and placing the particular provision within the context of that statute." Louis Vuitton, 676 F.3d at 108 (quoting Saks v. Franklin Covey Co., 316 F.3d 337, 345 (2d Cir. 2003)). "It is a fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme." Sturgeon v. Frost, 136 S.Ct. 1061, 1070 (2016) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Roberts v. Sea-Land Servs., Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1350, 1357 (2012)). Examination of the other uses of the terms "navigable waters" and "waters" elsewhere in the Clean Water Act does not establish that these terms can bear only one meaning. The Clean Water Act sometimes regulates individual water bodies and other times entire water systems.

          As the plaintiffs and the dissent point out, several other provisions in the Clean Water Act suggest that "navigable waters" refers to any of several individual water bodies, specifically the Act's references to:

. "the navigable waters involved/ 33 U.S.C. § 1313(c)(2)(A), (c)(4);
. "those waters or parts thereof/ id. § 1313(d)(1)(B);
. "all navigable waters, " id. § 1314(a)(2);
. "any navigable waters/ id. § 1314(f)(2)(F);
. "those waters within the State" and "all navigable waters in such State/ id. § 1314(1)(1)(A)-(B);
. "all navigable waters in such State" and "all navigable waters of such State/ id. § 1315(b)(1)(A)-(B); and
. "the navigable waters within the jurisdiction of such State, " "navigable waters within [the State's] jurisdiction/ and "any of the navigable waters, " id. § 1342.

         But this pattern of usage does not establish that "navigable waters" cannot ever refer to all waters as a singular whole because it also suggests that when Congress wants to make clear that it is using "navigable waters" in a particular sense, it can and sometimes does provide additional language as a beacon to guide interpretation. Cf. Rapanos, 547 U.S. at 732-33 (holding that "[t]he use of the definite article ('the') and the plural number ('waters')" made clear that § 1362(7) is limited to "fixed bodies of water, " such as "streams, . . . oceans, rivers, [and] lakes, " and does not extend to "ordinarily dry channels through which water occasionally or intermittently flows").[24] If Congress had thought about the question and meant for Section 502(12) of the Clean Water Act to refer to individual water bodies, it could have referred to something like "any addition of any pollutant to a navigable water from any point source, " or "any addition of any pollutant to any navigable water from any point source." As the plaintiffs and the dissent would have it, the phrases "addition to navigable waters, " "addition to a navigable water, " and "addition to any navigable water" necessarily mean the same thing, at least in the context of the Act. We do not disagree that the phrases could be interpreted to have the same meaning, but we disagree that this interpretation is clearly and unambiguously mandated in light of how the terms "navigable waters" and "waters" are used in other sections of the Act.

         We thus see nothing in the language or structure of the Act that indicates that Congress clearly spoke to the precise question at issue: whether Congress intended to require NPDES permits for water transfers.

          2. Statutory purpose and legislative history

         Inasmuch as the statutory text, context, and structure have yielded no definitive answer to the question before us, we conclude the first step of our Chevron analysis by looking to whether Congress's purpose in enacting the Clean Water Act establishes that the phrase "addition . . . to navigable waters" can reasonably bear only one meaning. See Gen. Dynamics, 540 U.S. at 600 (using both statutory purpose and history at Chevron Step One). Beginning with the name of the statute, it seems clear enough that the predominant goal of the Clean Water Act is to ensure that our nation's waters are "clean, " at least in the sense of being reasonably free of pollutants. The Act itself states that its main objective is "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." 33 U.S.C. § 1251(a). The plaintiffs and the dissent argue that exempting water transfers from the NPDES permitting program could frustrate the achievement of this goal by allowing unmonitored transfers of polluted water from one water body to another. Cf. Catskill II, 451 F.3d at 81 (observing that a unitary-waters interpretation of navigable waters would allow for "the transfer of water from a heavily polluted, even toxic, water body to one that was pristine").

          As the Supreme Court has noted, however, "no law pursues its purpose at all costs." Rapanos, 547 U.S. at 752. We see no reason to think that the Clean Water Act is an exception. To the contrary, the Clean Water Act is "among the most complex" of federal statutes, and it "balances a welter of consistent and inconsistent goals, " Catskill I, 273 F.3d at 494, establishing a complicated scheme of federal regulation employing both federal and state implementation and supplemental state regulation, see, e.g., 33 U.S.C. § 1251(g) (federal agencies must cooperate with state and local governments to develop "comprehensive solutions" for pollution "in concert with . . . managing water resources"). In this regard, the Act largely preserves states' traditional authority over water allocation and use, while according the EPA a degree of policymaking discretion and flexibility with respect to water quality standards-both of which might well counsel against requiring NPDES permits for water transfers and instead in favor of letting the States determine what administrative regimen, if any, applies to water transfers. Accordingly, Congress's broad purposes and goals in passing the Act do not alone establish that the Act unambiguously requires that water transfers be subject to NPDES permitting.

          Even careful analysis of the Clean Water Act's legislative history does not help us answer the interpretive question before us. Although we are generally "reluctant to employ legislative history at step one of Chevron analysis, " legislative history is at times helpful in resolving ambiguity; for example, when the '"interpretive clues [speak] almost unanimously, making Congress's intent clear 'beyond reasonable doubt.'" Mizrahi v. Gonzales, 492 F.3d 156, 166 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Gen. Dynamics, 540 U.S. at 586, 590). But here Congress has not left us a trace of a clue as to its intent. The more than 3, 000-page legislative history of the Clean Water Act appears to be silent, or very nearly so, as to the applicability of the NPDES permitting program to water transfers. See generally Comm. on Env't. & Pub. Works, 95th Cong., 2d Sess., A Legislative History of the Clean Water Act of 1977 & A Continuation of the Legislative History of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (1978); Comm. on Pub. Works, 93rd Cong., 1st Sess., A Legislative History of the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (1973). As we noted in Catskill I, the legislative history does not speak to the meaning of the term "addition" standing alone, 273 F.3d at 493, suggesting that the history is similarly silent as to the meaning of the broader phrase that includes this term, "addition . . . to navigable waters."

          Finally and tellingly, neither the parties nor amici have pointed us to any legislative history that clearly addresses the applicability of the NPDES permitting program to water transfers. What few examples from the legislative history they have cited-such as the strengthening of the permit requirements in Section 301(b)(1)(C) to include water quality-based limits in addition to technology-based limitations, see William L. Andreen, The Evolution of Water Pollution Control in the United States-State, Local, and Federal Efforts, 1789-1972: Part II, 22 Stan. Envtl. L.J. 215, 270, 275-77 (2003), and broad aspirational statements about the elimination of water pollution and the need to regulate every point source by the report of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, S. Rep. No. 92-414, at 3738, 3758 (1971), provide at most keyhole-view insights into Congress's intent. They do not speak to the issue before us with the "high level of clarity" necessary to resolve the textual ambiguity before us at Chevron Step One. Cohen v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., 498 F.3d 111, 120 (2d Cir. 2007). The question is whether Congress has "directly spoken, " Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842, to whether NPDES permits are required for water transfers-not whether it has made a stray or oblique reference to that issue here and there.

          3. Canons of statutory construction

         The traditional canons of statutory construction also provide no clear answer to the question whether Congress intended that the NPDES permitting system apply to water transfers.

         First, the dissent asserts that the Water Transfers Rule violates the principle that '"[w]here Congress explicitly enumerates certain exceptions to a general prohibition, additional exceptions are not to be implied, in the absence of evidence of contrary legislative intent, " Hillman v. Maretta,133 S.Ct. 1943, 1953 (2013) (quoting Andrus v. Glover Constr. Co.,446 U.S. 608, 616-17 (1980)). See Dissent at 12-14. Contrary to the dissent's assertion, however, that canon of construction is not applicable where, as here, the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.