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Middlesex County Utils. Auth. v. Sayreville, Borough of

Citation: 12 ELR 21097
No. No. 82-5116, 690 F.2d 358/18 ERC 1001/(3d Cir., 10/12/1982)

The Third Circuit rules that § 204(b)(1) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and its implementing regulations, which authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to condition approval of sewage treatment works construction grants upon the applicant's implementation of a user charge system, do not violate the Tenth Amendment or the Equal Protection Clause. Initially, the court determines that Congress' purposes in providing for the user charge system, which were to ensure that each federally assisted facility had adequate operation and maintenance funds and to encourage water conservation, were valid and that the condition reasonably implements those purposes. The court rules that, although the condition arguably regulates states as states and addresses matters that are attributes of state sovereignty, it does not impinge upon the sovereignty of New Jersey, but simply imposes a limitation on the expenditure of federal funds. The court rejects appellants' contention that a 1977 amendment to § 204(b)(1), which authorized EPA to accept an ad valorem tax as an alternative to a user charge system, violates the Equal Protection Clause since it is applicable only to those communities that had such a tax in force in 1977. The court rules that the amendment constitutes a rational limitation, in light of the fact that Congress' goal of encouraging conservation is better served through implementation of a user charge system than through an ad valorem tax. Finally, the court rules that the merits of appellants' argument that its existing taxes constitute dedicated ad valorem taxes in force in 1977, which was not raised during the administrative proceedings, should be determined by EPA.

[Related decisions are reported at 12 ELR 20136 and 20803 — Ed.]

Counsel for Appellants
William S. Greenberg
Greenberg, Kelley & Prior
196 W. State St., Trenton NJ 08608
(609) 989-9800

Counsel for Appellees
Milton B. Conford
Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer
900 Route 9, P.O. Box 10, Woodbridge NJ 07095
(201) 636-8000

Lee A. DeHihns III
Office of General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 382-5313

Rosanne Mayer
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5409

Pollak joined by Gibbons and Hunter, JJ.