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Association of Am. R.Rs. v. Costle

ELR Citation: 7 ELR 20730
Nos. No. 73-4545, 562 F.2d 1310/10 ERC 1529/(D.C. Cir., 08/23/1977)

Pursuant to §17 of the Noise Control Act of 1972, ELR STAT. & REG. 41506, the court directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promulgate Railroad Noise Emission Standards not limited to just rail cars and locomotives. Plaintiffs argued that the mandate in §17 requiring standards for "emissions resulting from operation of the equipment and facilities" meant all of the equipment and facilities of interstate rail carriers, but EPA argued that the Act vested discretion in the Administrator to determine which sources of railroad noise are to be regulated at the federal level. EPA justified its rationale for limiting the regulations by stating that "at this time" there was no need for national uniformity for all equipment, but future experience may call for a different approach. The court first finds that EPA is under a mandatory duty to issue standards, and this preempts local regulation although there may be local variances. In its analysis, the court finds nothing in either the statutory language or the legislative history of the Act to indicate that Congress intended to vest discretion in EPA to decide which of the equipment and facilities would be subject to regulation. Congress sought to avoid the burdens of multiple exposure through differing regulations in different jurisdictions, and this is consistent with the broad definition of equipment and facilities. EPA should not be accorded deference as the agency administering the Act because it has misinterpreted its statutory mandate. Nor does the argument of practical considerations carry weight because EPA has shown that it is capable of defining equipment and facilities in a realistic and reasonable manner. There is no provision for delay in the original issuance of mandatory standards; EPA must look to Congress, not the courts, if it desires such flexibility. While not disturbing the individual Railroad Noise Emission Standards already issued, the court directs EPA to broaden the scope of the equipment and facilities regulated to accord with the statutory mandate and to issue final regulations within one year.

Counsel for Petitioners
Richard J. Flynn (with Lee A. Monroe, Joseph B. Tompkins, Jr.)
Sidley & Austin
1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 872-1730

Counsel for Respondents
Erica L. Dolgin (with Peter R. Taft, Ass't Attorney General)
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2792

Jeffrey O. Cerar
Environmental Protection Agency
401 M St. SW, Washington DC 20460
(202) 755-2500

Counsel for Intervenor State of Illinois
Russell R. Eggert, Ass't Attorney General
Environmental Control Division
500 South 2d St., Springfield IL 62706
(217) 782-1090

Before TAMM and WILKEY, Circuit Judges, and WILLIAM B. JONES,* United States Senior District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.