Standing up for their authority under the Clean Water Act to seek permits from organizations operating facilities that would discharge pollutants into water bodies and/or wetlands, the Environmental News Service (www.ens-newswire.com) reports that 34 states plus the District of Columbia filed documents with the Supreme Court in three cases scheduled for hearing next month.

In their filings, the attorneys general of the states and the District of Columbia said they believe the Clean Water Act provides states the right to protect wetlands adjacent to tributaries that flow into larger water bodies and adjacent wetlands.

According to the Environmental News Service, the first case, S.D. Warren v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection, could decide the scope of state government authority to mitigate the water quality impacts of hydroelectric dams and other federally licensed activities within their borders.

Warren owns and operates five contiguous hydroelectric run-of-river dams that provide electricity to one of its paper mills. In renewing the hydroelectric licenses, the company applied for water quality certification under the federal Clean Water Act. In 2003, Maine’s board approved certification with conditions to mitigate the water quality impacts of the dams.

Warren appealed the conditions, claiming the state overextended its authority.

The two other cases under consideration, Rapanos v. U.S. and Carabell v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, could answer questions about how the federal government can use the Clean Water Act to restrict development on or near wetlands that provide habitat for aquatic species, help prevent floods, and filter pollutants from waterways, reports the Environmental News Service.