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Environmental Defense Fund v. Costle

Citation: 8 ELR 20200
No. No. 75-2224, 578 F.2d 337/11 ERC 1209/(D.C. Cir., 02/10/1978)

The D.C. Circuit denies a petition to review the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) interim regulations implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act insofar as they relate to inorganic contaminants, but remands the record relating to organic contaminants for a report on whether the agency plans to address more than the six organics now covered by the regulations. An examination of the legislative history leads the court to conclude that Congress intended EPA to undertake rapid and comprehensive measures, where feasible, to control every contaminant that may prove injurious to health. The court notes the presence in the record of evidence that drinking water is widely contaminated by carcinogenic organic substances and that feasible methods exist for the removal of such contaminants at a reasonable cost. The court thus rejects EPA's argument that imperfections in monitoring capabilities justify the Agency's decision not to control organic contaminants other than those subject to the interim regulations. EPA's standards and monitoring requirements regarding inorganic contaminants, for which more definitive data are available, are within the limits of discretion delegated to the Agency under the Act and reasonably promote the legislative intent. In a postscript to its opinion, the court notes that EPA recently proposed regulations that would limit permissible levels of trihalomethanes such as chloroform.

Counsel for Petitioner
Jacqueline M. Warren
Environmental Defense Fund
1525 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 833-1484

Counsel for Respondent
Erica L. Dolgin, Edmund B. Clark
Land & Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Thomas A. Larsen
Office of General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 755-2511

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Michigan Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Division
Stewart H. Freeman, Gregory T. Taylor Ass't Attorneys General
525 W. Ottawa St., Lansing MI 48913
(517) 373-1110

Before: TAMM, LEVENTHAL and MacKINNON, Circuit Judges.

Opinion filed by Circuit Judge MacKINNON, concurring in part and dissenting in part.