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Citizens Ass'n of Georgetown v. Washington

Citation: 6 ELR 20524
No. No. 74-2086, 535 F.2d 1318/8 ERC 2164/(D.C. Cir., 05/25/1976) Rev'd

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reverses the district court's award of attorneys' fees to plaintiffs, since the lower court could not predicate jurisdiction on the Clean Air Act citizen suit provision. The complaint merely alleged that the District of Columbia failed to insist on preconstruction review of proposed underground parking garages. A cause of action does not lie under the Clean Air Act for a government's failure to enforce the Act. Rather, the Act confers federal jurisdiction only over suits against polluters and government orders issued with respect to emission limitations. Congress intended justiciable violations not to involve re-analysis of technological considerations at the enforcement stage. Nowhere does the complaint allege a violation of an emission limitation, compliance schedule, or standard of performance. The court does not reach the question whether the District of Columbia must promulgate regulations governing preconstruction review of large parking facilities. This decision does not leave citizens without recourse; jurisdiction may be premised on a state's failure to pursue its implementation plan or on appropriate statutes other than the Clean Air Act's citizen suit provision.

Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
David Eisenberg, Asst. Corporation Counsel
14th & E Sts. NW
Washington DC 20004
(202) 629-3864

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellees
Bruce J. Terris
1908 Sunderland Place NW
Washington DC 20036
(202) 785-1992

McGowan, Leventhal, and McMillan.*