OCTOBER TERM, 2008
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
COEUR ALASKA, INC. v. SOUTHEAST ALASKA
CONSERVATION COUNCIL ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE NINTH CIRCUIT
No. 07–984. Argued January 12, 2009—Decided June 22, 2009*
In reviving a closed Alaska gold mine using a “froth flotation” tech-
nique, petitioner Coeur Alaska, Inc., plans to dispose of the resulting
waste material, a rock and water mixture called “slurry,” by pumping
it into a nearby lake and then discharging purified lake water into a
downstream creek. The Clean Water Act (CWA), inter alia, classifies
crushed rock as a “pollutant,” §352(6); forbids its discharge “[e]xcept
as in compliance” with the Act, §301(a); empowers the Army Corps of
Engineers (Corps) to “issue permits . . . for the discharge of . . . fill
material,” §404(a); and authorizes the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) to “issue a permit for the discharge of any pollutant,”
“[e]xcept as provided in [§404],” §402(a). The Corps and the EPA to-
gether define “fill material” as any “material [that] has the effect of
. . . [c]hanging the bottom elevation” of water, including “slurry . . . or
similar mining-related materials.” 40 CFR §232.2. Coeur Alaska ob-
tained a §404 permit for the slurry discharge from the Corps and a
§402 permit for the lake water discharge from the EPA.
Respondent environmental groups (collectively, SEACC) sued the
Corps and several of its officials under the Administrative Procedure
Act, arguing that the CWA §404 permit was not “in accordance with
law,” 5 U. S. C. §706(2)(A), because (1) Coeur Alaska should