U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number


Cert. Denied


Questions Presented

Whether the Fifth Circuit erred by giving mere lip service to the rule of lenity and penal canon when imposing Clean Water Act civil fine liability under 33 U.S.C. § 1321(b) 7) on the owners of an offshore well, where oil discharged to federal waters not from the well itself but from a vessel and its associated equipment connected to the well.

Case Updates

Cert. petition denied

June 29, 2015

U.S. Chamber urges Supreme Court to review Fifth Circuit’s interpretation of Clean Water Act

April 23, 2015

In their brief, the U.S. Chamber and a broad coalition of national and local trade associations asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant two certiorari petitions to review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that adopted a confusing, overbroad, and internally inconsistent definition for an oil or hazardous substance “discharge” that triggers Clean Water Act civil penalties.

According to the amicus brief, the Fifth Circuit’s erroneous interpretation has introduced great uncertainty for investment in the Nation’s critical energy infrastructure—a deeply troubling reality independent of the Government’s request for a record-breaking $15 billion in civil penalties based on the ruling.

The U.S. Chamber filed this brief jointly with the National Association of Manufacturers, Business Roundtable, Texas Oil and Gas Association, Independent Petroleum Association of America, and American Petroleum Institute.

Christopher J. Walker of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law served as counsel for the amici with the U.S. Chamber.

Case Documents