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USI Properties Corp. v. EPA

Citation: 11 ELR 20971
No. No. 80-2329, 517 F. Supp. 1235/16 ERC 1408/(D.P.R., 07/14/1981)

The court dismisses plaintiff's jurisdictional challenge to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement order on grounds of failure to exhaust administrative remedies.EPA ordered plaintiff to cease discharging pollutants into navigable waters and dredging or filling wetlands without obtaining permits under §§ 402 and 404 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The court holds that jurisdictional questions — whether the discharges pollute navigable united States waters and whether plaintiff's property is a wetland — must initially be submitted for administrative consideration in permit proceedings. Exhaustion of administrative remedies would not be required if there were a clear lack of agency jurisdiction. Here, however, the record shows probable jurisdiction, the jurisdictional issue requires a factual determination within the field of the agency's specialized knowledge, and resort to administrative proceedings will not cause plaintiff undue expense or other irreparable harm.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Ruben T. Nigaglioni
Nigaglioni, Palou & Ledesma
Suite 1103, Banco de Ponce Bldg., San Juan PR 00918
(809) 754-6300

Counsel for Defendants
Vivian D. Reyes, Ass't U.S. Attorney
101 U.S. Cthse. & Fed. Bldg., Calle Carlos Chardon, Hato Rey PR 00918
(809) 753-4656