University of Maryland Law Students Stand Up for the Upper Potomac in State Court

Photo by Tusik Only


On a warm spring morning at the Allegany County courthouse in Cumberland, law students from the University of Maryland Law School Clinic stood up to argue Upper Potomac Riverkeeper’s case against the State of Maryland, challenging the state water discharge permit for a wastewater treatment plant run by the Upper Potomac River Commission. The treatment plant has a history of dumping wastewater laden with industrial solids from the nearby Luke Paper plant, causing violations of state water quality standards designed to protect water quality and the use of the Potomac in this stretch for recreation and fishing. After delaying for years, the state issued a new permit that should have set tough new standards and limits to eliminate these violations and comply with the Chesapeake Bay regional pollution limits set by EPA. Instead, the permit failed to include appropriate limits on solids. In addition, Maryland’s Department of Environment added new terms to the final permit after the end of the public comment period, without giving the public the opportunity to raise objections. Clinic students Julia Carbonetti and John Gustafson argued our position with poise, passion and a mastery of the facts and law that outshone the seasoned attorneys opposing them in the courtroom. Upper Potomac Riverkeeper is fortunate to have such able counsel representing us, and we’re confident we gave Judge W. Timothy Finan all he needs to rule in our favor. Stay tuned for the ruling on this case.