Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

State v. Union Tank Car Co.

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20472
Nos. No. 82-WA-1008, 439 So. 2d 377/(La., 03/25/1983)

The court rules that the legislature validly delegated crime-defining powers to the Environmental Control Commission, but that certain of the commission's regulations governing criminal discharge of air pollutants are unconstitutionally vague. The court rules that the legislature may delegate crime-defining powers if the delegation is limited to serve a clear policy and has sufficient standards. The court finds the policy expressed in the Louisiana Air Control Act to be sufficiently clear. The court notes that the complexity and uncertainty of environmental problems demand that the regulating body have flexibility and that the statutes remain general. It finds that the statutes read as a whole provide sufficient standards and that the legislature has instituted adequate procedural safeguards to prevent arbitrary agency action.

Turning to the issue of vagueness, the court notes that under both state and federal constitutions, a criminal statute or regulation must be definite enough to give notice to potential violators and to give standards to the court determining guilt. The court rules that the regulations defining "undesirable emissions" and the regulations concerning notification of emergency emissions are so vague that persons of ordinary intelligence must guess at their meanings.

A concurring opinion would find the delegation of legislative authority to the commission to be in violation of the state constitution as well.

Counsel for Appellant
Aub Atkins Ward
8044 Summa Dr., Baton Rouge LA 70809
(504) 769-5765

Counsel for Respondent
Frank S. Craig III
Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson
7th Floor, Fidelity Nat'l Bank Bldg., 440 Riverside Mall, Baton Rouge LA 70801
(504) 387-4000

Frank J. Gremillion
430 Europe St., Baton Rouge LA 70802
(504) 387-0204