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Halogenated Solvents Indus. Alliance v. Thomas

ELR Citation: 16 ELR 20454
Nos. No. 85-4877, 783 F.2d 1262/24 ERC 1095/(5th Cir., 03/04/1986)

The court rules that regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency establishing recommended maximum contaminant levels (RMCLs) are reviewable only in the Court of Appeals or the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) under §1448(a)(1) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). While §1448(a)(1) does not explicitly refer to RMCLs, it does provide that challenges to national primary drinking water regulations may be brought only in the D.C. Circuit. While it is a close case, the court concludes that since the SDWA requires that the maximum contaminant levels of the revised primary regulations be as close to the RMCLs as feasible, the RMCLs are an integral part of the revised primary regulations and thus Congress intended to limit review of the D.C. Circuit. Since the legislative history of the SDWA is not helpful on this issue, the court looks to the history of the Clean Air Act, which contains an analogous provision. This history reveals that Congress' intent in making certain regulations reviewable only in the D.C. Circuit is to ensure national uniformity on administrative actions that are national in scope and require consistent application. Since the RMCLs are national in scope, it is consistent with congressional intent to so limit review. Further, although petitioners assert a reasonable interpretation of SDWA's statutory scheme, the agency's interpretation is entitled to substantial deference.

Counsel for Petitioners
Malcolm Monroe
Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles
755 Magazine St., New Orleans LA 70130-3672
(504) 581-5141

Donald Morgan
Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
1752 N St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 728-2700

Counsel for Respondents
John A. Amodeo
Environmental Protection Agency
401 M St. SW, Washington DC 20460

Before Poliz, Garwood, and Jolly, JJ.