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Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA

Citation: 6 ELR 20777
No. No. 72-2402, 539 F.2d 1068/9 ERC 1298/(5th Cir., 10/04/1976) Attorneys fees denied

The Fifth Circuit denies a motion for attorneys' fees in a Clean Air Act citizen suit which successfully challenged the EPA Administrator's approval of portions of the Georgia air quality implementation plan An award of attorneys' fees must be based on a statutory exception to the general prohibition against such awards. This suit was brought directly in the court of appeals under § 307 of the Clean Air Act. Unlike § 304, which provides for citizen enforcement of the Act in federal district court, § 307 makes no mention of attorneys' fees. The court declines to follow the First Circuit's holding that a § 307 suit can be considered as one brought pursuant to § 304(a), and thus one in which an attorneys' fees award under § 304(d) is appropriate. While it considers the policy argument behind the First Circuit's decision compelling, the court finds that the legislative history dictates a contrary conclusion. The Senate Report and parts of the floor debate show that Congress did not intend § 307 suits to be brought pursuant to § 304.

Counsel for Petitioner
Richard E. Ayres
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
917 15th St., NW
Washington DC 20005
(202) 737-5000

Counsel for Respondent
Edmund B. Clark
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Wisdom, J. joined by Dyer and Ingraham, JJ.