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Fairview Township v. EPA

ELR Citation: 15 ELR 20028
Nos. No. 83-1665, 593 F. Supp. 1311/22 ERC 1423/(M.D. Pa., 09/27/1984) dismissed

The court rules that the citizen suit provision of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) does not authorize a municipality to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or state agencies in federal district court seeking an order to award a sewage treatment grant. The court first holds that jurisdiction to review EPA's performance of mandatory duties under the FWPCA lies exclusively under the Act's citizen suit provision, not under the Federal Mandamus Statute or the Administrative Procedure Act. The court further rules that the citizen suit provision does not authorize suits against state agencies. The court sidesteps the factual questions of whether the state had certified plaintiff's grant application and EPA had formally disapproved it, thus triggering and satisfying a non-discretionary duty under §209 of the FWPCA. Instead the court holds that although the plaintiffs ask the court to issue an injunction ordering the award of the grant, the relief sought is tantamount to a money judgment. The court speculates that the Tucker Act might require such a suit to be brought in the Court of Claims, but ultimately holds that the FWPCA gives no court jurisdiction to award monetary damages.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
John E. Childe
1721 N. Front St., P.O. Box 1749, Harrisburg PA 17105
(717) 238-4256

Counsel for Defendants
Harry A. Nagle, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Post Office Bldg., Lewisburg PA 17837
(717) 524-4415

Carl Strass
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2682