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Bethlehem Steel Corp. v. Train

Citation: 7 ELR 20019
No. No. 75-2452, 544 F.2d 657/9 ERC 1420/(3d Cir., 11/01/1976)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is without authority to grant an extension in the petitioner's national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit beyond the July 1, 1977 compliance deadline set in §301 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) Amendments of 1972. An examination of the terms of the statute and its legislative history shows that Congress intended the July 1, 1977, date to be a rigid guidepost from which EPA could not authorize deviation even in the face of claims that compliance is impossible. Despite EPA's adoption of a policy of not undertaking enforcement actions against dischargers for failure to meet the July 1, 1977, deadline, the court notes that its ruling may work a hardship on the petitioner because EPA's policy would not preclude a citizen suit brought under §505 against the petitioner for failure to comply with the terms of the permit. The court rules, however, that the problem of compliance impossibility requires congressional rather than judicial resolution. The court also rejects the petitioner's argument that the statutory requirement of compliance by July 1, 1977, constitutes a violation of due process.

Counsel for Petitioner
John McN. Cramer
Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay
747 Union Trust Bldg.
P.O. Box 2009
Pittsburgh PA 15230
(412) 288-3131

Counsel for Respondent
Peter R. Taft, Asst. Attorney General
Alfred T. Ghiorzi
Thomas A. Pursley, III
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Barry L. Malter
Office of the General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency
Washington DC 20460
(202) 755-2500

Rosenn and Garth, JJ., concur.