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United States v. Detroit, City of

ELR Citation: 14 ELR 20164
Nos. No. 82-1818, 720 F.2d 443/19 ERC 2090/(6th Cir., 10/26/1983)

The Sixth Circuit vacates as invalid under §205(b) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) a districtcourt order forbidding the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from reallocating federal sewage treatment construction grant monies earmarked for Detroit. After years of litigation concerning the noncompliance of the city's sewage treatment facilities with FWPCA standards, the district court, concerned that the approaching end of the 1981 fiscal year would automatically trigger the reallocation to other states of 1981 grant monies needed for upgrading the city's facilities, ordered EPA and MDNR not to reallocate or reobligate any funds available to the city. On a petition for review submitted by a competing municipal grant applicant, the court first declares that, notwithstanding the petitioner's receipt of 1982 federal grant monies, the case is not moot under the "capable of repetition yet evading review" doctrine. Next, the court holds that §205(b)(1) imposes on EPA a mandatory duty to reallocate any grant monies which remain obligated at the end of any given fiscal year. It rules that this duty exists independent of a duty to enforce FWPCA pollutant limitations. Therefore, the district court lacked the legal authority to bar EPA from reallocating the funds, regardless of the fact that EPA had entered into consent judgments intended to bring the city's facilities into compliance with FWPCA discharge requirements.

Counsel for Appellants-Intervenors
Harry J. Knudsen
Knudsen, Wasiura & Associates
P.O. Box 976, Muskegon MI 49443-0976
(616) 722-7755

Counsel for Appellees
Leonard Gilman, U.S. Attorney
817 Fed. Bldg., Detroit MI 48226
(313) 226-7715

Robert J. Franzinger
Dykema, Gossett, Spencer, Goodnow & Trigg
15th Floor, 400 Renaissance Ctr., Detroit MI 48243
(313) 568-6594

Before MERRITT and KRUPANSKY, Circuit Judges, and BROWN, Senior Circuit Judge.