Phillip Bower

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Phil brings a lifelong interest in environmental issues and a strong science background to his environmental law practice. Drawing on an undergraduate degree in GeoEnvironmental Engineering and a master’s in Mineral Processing, he puts highly technical knowledge and experience to work for his clients, counseling them on environmental compliance and risk management.

Latest Articles

As discussed in prior blog posts, the Federal Circuits became split (Part 1) in 2018 on whether the Clean Water Act (“CWA” or the “Act”) regulates discharges of pollutants from point sources that reach navigable waters through nonpoint sources, such as groundwater. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in one of those Circuit decisions (Part 2), and the case is still in front of the Supreme Court. While U.S. EPA…
The Trump administration announced in December 2018 its proposed replacement rule defining “waters of the United States.” Under the proposed rule, the number of wetlands that fall outside of federal jurisdiction is expected to increase. Phillip Bower and Megan McLean weigh in on what this means for state regulation of non-federal wetlands in the recent article published in the American Bar Association’s March/April 2019 edition of Trends, the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources…
On February 19, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments regarding “Whether the CWA [Clean Water Act] requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater” following a circuit split between the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Read more about this case history and the legal arguments on the Emerging Energy Insights blog: https://www.emergingenergyinsights.com/2019/02/cwa-series-scotus-grant-cert-discharge-question/…
In Part 1 of our Clean Water Act (CWA) Series, we reported on the circuit split between the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals regarding whether indirect discharges to Waters of the United States (WOTUS) through groundwater required a CWA permit. On February 19, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments regarding “Whether the CWA requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint…
Under the CWA, the discharge of pollutants, meaning the “addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source,” without a permit is prohibited. Previously, we reported on the circuit split (Part 1) between the Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals regarding whether indirect discharges to WOTUS through groundwater required a CWA permit.…
As mentioned in a prior blog post, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (“Tribe”) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) over the proposed Aquila Resources Back Forty Mine (“Mine”) located in Michigan, arguing that EPA and Corps have failed to take responsibility under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) for reviewing wetland permits for the project. Michigan is responsible for issuing the Section 404 wetland fill permits for…
On January 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that challenges to the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (the “WOTUS Rule” or “Rule”) belong in district court rather than the appellate court. The WOTUS Rule was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) to clarify which waters and wetlands fall under federal jurisdiction. Numerous parties challenged the Rule in both federal district courts and circuit…
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) over the proposed Aquila Resources Back Forty Mine, arguing that EPA and Corps have failed to take responsibility for reviewing wetland permits for the project. The lawsuit was expected since the Tribe filed a notice of intent to sue in November 2017. Aquila Resources has proposed an open pit mine, deemed the “Back Forty Mine,”…
Since 2001, Wisconsin law has required a permit to discharge fill into wetlands that do not fall under federal jurisdiction (“nonfederal wetlands”). Of the approximately five million acres of wetlands in Wisconsin, an estimated 10 to 30 percent are nonfederal wetlands. State lawmakers held hearings on December 21 on proposed legislation, AB547/SB600, which would exempt nonfederal and artificial wetlands from the state wetland permitting requirements administered by the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”). The bill…