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E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. Train

Citation: 7 ELR 20191
No. No. 75-978, 430 U.S. 112/9 ERC 1753/(U.S., 02/23/1977) Aff'd

Affirming in most respects a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court upholds the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) authority to promulgate regulations which establish nationwide 1977 and 1983 limitations on discharges from inorganic chemical manufacturers. Section 301 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 unambiguously provides that the 1983 effluent limitations are to be promulgated by EPA regulation on the basis of classes or categories of point sources rather than through individual § 402 permit proceedings. The statutory structure demonstrates that the 1977 limitations are to be established in the same manner, provided, however, that some allowance is made for variations in individual plants, a provision satisfied by EPA's inclusion of a variance clause in the 1977 limitations. This reading of the statute is supported by the legislative history. The function of the guidelines called for by § 304(b) is to survey the practicable or available pollution control technology for a particular industry and assess its effectiveness rather than merely to guide the discretion of § 402 permit issuers in setting limitations for individual plants. The Court notes that petitioners' interpretation of the statutory structure would place an impossible administrative burden on EPA, and the agency's interpretation has received the overwhelming support of the courts of appeals that have considered the question. The holding that § 301 empowers EPA to issue effluent limitations for classes and categories of existing dischargers necessarily resolves the jurisdictional issue; § 509(b)(1)(E) authorizes court of appeals review of such EPA action. That portion of the lower court's judgment that required EPA to insert a variance provision into its regulations establishing standards of performance for new sources in the inorganic chemicals manufacturing category under § 306(b)(1) must be reversed, however, since it is clear Congress intended those regulations to establish absolute prohibitions and a variance provision would thus be inappropriate.

Counsel for Petitioners
Robert C. Barnard, Douglas E. Kliever, Charles F. Lettow
Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
1250 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 223-2151

Counsel for Respondents
Daniel M. Friedman, Deputy Solicitor General;
Howard E. Shapiro, Ass't to the Solicitor General;
Peter R. Taft, Ass't Attorney General; Edmund B. Clark,
Kathryn A. Oberly
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

G. William Frick, General Counsel; Bruce Diamond
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 755-2500

MR. JUSTICE POWELL took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.