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Mathies Coal Co. v. Commonwealth

Citation: 17 ELR 20100
No. No. 1860 C.D. 1985, 514 A.2d 677/100 Pa. Commw. 311, (Pa. Commw. Ct., 09/04/1986)

The court rules that the Pennsylvania State Department of Environmental Resources (DER) must, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, consider economic or aquatic impacts when issuing a national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit. Under DER regulations, receiving stream water quality standards are not the only valid factors in determining NPDES effluent limits. The court therefore holds that the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) incorrectly ruled that DER had no duty to consider the economic and aquatic impacts of the effluent limitations DER established for the discharge from a coal company treatment plant. Next, the court finds that the coal company did not waive its right to challenge DER's use of a fixed mass balance equation in determining effluent concentrations. Although it may not have specifically addressed the mass balance equation before the EHB, the coal company's demand that DER consider economic and aquatic impacts effectively challenged DER's use of the formula to derive effluent limits. The court holds that DER should determine the weight given to each of the relevant factors but may not use a mass balance equation to avoid consideration of each applicant's individual circumstances.

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

Counsel for Respondent
Zelda G. Curtiss, Ass't Attorney General
Strawberry Sq., 16th Fl., Harrisburg PA 17120
(717) 787-3391

Before CRUMLISH, Jr., President Judge, BARRY, J., and ROGERS, Senior Judge.