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Citizens for a Better Env't v. EPA

Citation: 9 ELR 20092
No. No. 78-1042, 596 F.2d 720/13 ERC 1094/(7th Cir., 01/26/1979)

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturns the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) approval of Illinois' assumption of responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit program within its borders under § 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The court rules that the declaration of goals and policy in § 101(e) of the Act contains an express congressional directive to the EPA Administrator to devise guidelines for public participation in the enforcement process of state NPDES programs, and that this specific duty is corroborated by the legislative history. EPA failed to establish guidelines by which the adequacy of the Illinois provisions for public participation in the enforcement of the state program could be assessed, however, and is not entitled to judicial deference to its determination to ignore this statutory directive. The court rejects the contention that even though the EPA guidelines are inadequate, approval of the state program should be upheld because there are provisions for substantial citizen participation in the enforcement process, noting that Congress did not envision ad hoc judicial determinations on this point without the benefit of EPA regulations.

Counsel for Petitioner
Bill Forcade
Citizens for a Better Environment
59 E. Van Buren St., Chicago IL 60605
(312) 939-1530

Counsel for Respondents
Michael P. Carlton
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2793

Thomas F. Harrison, Regional Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency
230 S. Dearborn St., Chicago IL 60604
(312) 353-2000

Before SWYGERT and SPRECHER, Circuit Judges, and GRANT, Senior District Judge.1