Justices seem uncertain about reach of Clean Water Act

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems uncertain about how to decide a closely watched case from Hawaii about the reach of landmark federal clean-water protections.

The justices heard arguments Wednesday about whether a sewage treatment plant needs a federal permit when it sends treated wastewater deep underground, instead of discharging the sewage directly into the Pacific Ocean. Studies have found the wastewater soon reaches the ocean and has damaged a coral reef near a Maui beach.

Several justices appeared to be searching for a compromise between environmental groups on one side, and the Trump administration and the local Hawaii government on the other. Trump's Environmental Protection Agency recently reversed the agency's long-standing position.