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United States v. Stauffer Chem. Co.

Citation: 11 ELR 20555
No. No. 80-1029, 511 F. Supp. 744/15 ERC 2027/(M.D. Tenn., 04/17/1981)

The district court denies Stauffer Chemical Co.'s motion to quash an administrative search warrant obtained by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concluding that under § 114(a)(2) of the Clean Air Act EPA is authorized to use non-Agency employees in making inspections of emission sources. On its face the provision extends a right of entry to the "Administrator or his authorized representative." When contrasted with other provisions in the Act using the term "officers and employees," § 114(a)(2) must be interpreted to give a right of entry to non-Agency employees. That the legislative history of the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act suggests a contrary result is insufficient to override the clear import of the language of § 114. Indeed, the legislative history of the Clean Air Act itself indicates that Congress, by rejecting the relevant portions of the House bill in favor of the language of the Senate bill, deliberately chose to extend a right of entry to the broader class of individuals in order to enhance enforcement of the Act. The court is not persuaded by Stauffer's expressed fears of unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets, noting that EPA has adopted disclosure safeguards and that such occurrences can be remedied in suits against both EPA and third parties. Finally, the court upholds EPA's authority to obtain such warrants on an ex parte basis.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Hal D. Hardin, U.S. Attorney
Rm. 879, U.S. Cthse., 801 Broadway, Nashville TN 37203
(615) 251-5151

Counsel for Defendant
Robert J. Walker
Bass, Berry & Sims
27th Floor, First American Center, Nashville TN 37238
(615) 244-5370