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United States v. LTV Steel Co.

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20232
Nos. No. Civ. A. 98-570, 116 F. Supp. 2d 624/51 ERC 1496/(W.D. Pa., 09/29/2000)

The court denies a motion to dismiss a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) civil action against a Pennsylvania steel plant for violating county air emissions regulations that are federally enforceable under the state's Clean Air Act (CAA) state implementation plan. The court first holds that the EPA action is not precluded by the Paperwork Reduction Act's (PRA's) requirement that the Office of Management and Budget approve information collection requests and assign them a control number. The regulations at issue prohibit a person from operating or allowing the operation of coke ovens except in compliance with certain emission limits and do not require the collection of information. The plant's argument that the mere existence of the regulations requires the collection of information to determine compliance would mean that virtually every regulation would be covered by the PRA, thus blocking federal agencies' efforts to enforce substantive regulations important to public health and safety. That could not have been Congress' goal. The court next holds that res judicata does not bar EPA's action against the plant. The settlement between the plant and the county air agency for violations occurring during the same period for which EPA seeks penalties was not a final judgment on the merits. Moreover, EPA was not in privity with the county agency, played no part in the settlement negotiation, and was not otherwise a party to the settlement. Additionally, although CAA §113(a)(1)'s federal enforcement provision lacks an explicit overfiling provision, EPA can overfile under the CAA because if it could not, CAA §113(e)(1), which allows courts to consider previous penalties for the same violations, would be rendered meaningless. The court further holds that EPA's notice of violation clearly identified the plant in violation, the regulation being violated, and the specific emissions sources at the plant in violation, thereby satisfying CAA §113's notice requirements for the alleged pre-1996 violations and, consequently, the court has subject matter jurisdiction over these violations. The court finally holds that EPA can seek penalties based on continuous emission monitoring (CEM) data because CEM is credible and probative.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Thomas A. Coulter
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Counsel for Defendant
John A. Ragosta
Dewey Ballantine
1775 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 862-1000