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Mathies Coal Co. v. Commonwealth

Citation: 19 ELR 21263
No. No. 5 W.D. 1988, 559 A.2d 506/(Pa., 05/30/1989) Rev'd

The court rules that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (DER) need not consider, as a matter of law, the economic consequences to an individual discharger when establishing effluent limitations or when issuing or amending a national pollutant discharge elimination system permit. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns a decision of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, 17 ELR 20100, which permitted DER to consider non-statutory factors, including the economic impact on an individual discharger, when enforcing water quality standards or establishing effluent limitations on discharges. The Supreme Court holds that DER need not consider the economic impact on an individual discharger. The DER's conclusion that its regulations do not authorize it to engage in a cost/benefit analysis when calculating water-quality-based effluent limitations is reasonable. Although DER regulations set forth a mass balance equation requiring individualized consideration of aquatic effects, the court holds that the regulations do not require further individualized consideration.

Counsel for Appellant
Zelda Curtiss, Ass't Counsel; Barbara H. Brandon, Director
Western Region Office of Chief Counsel, Department of Environmental Resources
1303 Highland Bldg., 121 Highland Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15206-3988
(412) 665-4940

Counsel for Appellee
Chester R. Babst III, Joseph M. Karas
Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir
8th Fl., Two Gateway Ctr., Pittsburgh PA 15222
(412) 394-5400

Before NIX, C.J., and LARSEN, FLAHERTY, McDERMOTT, ZAPPALA and PAPADAKOS, JJ.