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Hazardous Waste Treatment Council v. Thomas

Citation: 19 ELR 21409
No. Nos. 87-1492 et al., 885 F.2d 918/30 ERC 1250/(D.C. Cir., 09/15/1989)

The court holds that a trade association of hazardous waste treatment firms lacks standing to bring a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) California List rule under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This rule implements RCRA §3004(d), which bans the land disposal of untreated wastes containing defined concentrations of the so-called California List wastes. The court first holds that the prudential standing test applies in RCRA cases. RCRA provides that standards in Administrative Procedure Act §702 govern judicial review of EPA regulations, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that prudential limitations apply to review of agency actions under §702. The court holds the association has not satisfied the prudential test, since it is not arguably within the zone of interests Congress intended to regulate or protect. The court holds that the association lacks standing as a regulated party. The association alleges that the EPA rule allowing the use of solidification as a method to avoid the restrictions on land disposal of liquid wastes will force its members to offer solidification services, thus increasing the members' exposure to EPA penalties because solidification is allegedly an insufficient treatment method. The association's members are not regulated for purposes of the zone-of-interests test by EPA's failure to constrain them by law. The court also holds that the members' interests are not within the zone of interests that Congress intended to protect. The members are not among Congress' intended beneficiaries. Congress did not intend to improve the business opportunities of high-technology treatment firms in enacting RCRA §3004(d). The members are also not suitable challengers, since their interests do not coincide with the protected interests. Any injury to the members' competitive position caused by EPA's allegedly lax regulations does not make the firms suitable challengers. The firms' interest in receiving more revenue by increasing the demand for their treatment services does not necessarily coincide with RCRA's purpose of protecting health and the environment. The association's allegation that EPA's rule will affect the consumer environmental interests of its member land disposal facilities also does not make the firms suitable challengers. The firms' interest in avoiding an increased risk of liability as a result of the rule's allegedly lax standards does not necessarily coincide with the public interest in protecting health and the environment.

A dissenting judge would hold that the association has standing. The judge would hold that the association has satisfied the prudential requirements. The zone-of-interests test is easily met by the association's allegations that EPA's alleged regulatory laxity injures the consumer environmental interests of member land disposal facilities. The association has also satisfied the constitutional standing requirements.

Counsel for Petitioner
David R. Case, Ridgeway M. Hall Jr.
Hazardous Waste Treatment Council
1440 New York Ave. NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 783-0870

Counsel for Respondent
Mary Elizabeth Ward
Land and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 7611, Ben Franklin Station, Washington DC 20044
(202) 633-2000

Before: WALD, Chief Judge, and SILBERMAN and D.H. GINSBURG, Circuit Judges.