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Burbank, City of v. State Water Resources Control Bd.

Citation: 35 ELR 20071
No. Nos. S119248 et al., (Cal., 04/04/2005)

The California Supreme Court held that when a regional water board issues a permit to a wastewater treatment facility, it may not consider economic factors to justify imposing pollutant restrictions that are less stringent than the applicable federal standards, but it may take into account economic factors when making the restrictions more stringent than federal law. Because both California law and federal law require regional boards to comply with federal clean water standards, and because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires state law to yield to federal law, a regional board, when issuing a wastewater discharge permit, may not consider economic factors to justify imposing pollutant restrictions that are less stringent than the applicable federal standards. When, however, a regional board is considering whether to make the pollutant restrictions in a wastewater discharge permit more stringent than federal law requires, California law allows the board to take into account economic factors, including the wastewater discharger's cost of compliance.