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National Coal Ass'n v. EPA

ELR Citation: 17 ELR 20696
Nos. No. 85-2262, 810 F.2d 431/25 ERC 1612/(4th Cir., 01/30/1987)

The court holds that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) revisions of the effluent limitation guidelines and standards for settleable solids for the coal mining industry under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act are not arbitrary and capricious. EPA revised the effluent limitation guidelines and standards from a "daily maximum" to a "maximum not to be exceeded" of 0.5 milliliters per liter, the practical effect of which means the coal mining industry is required not to exceed the maximum in each sample taken during a given day rather than taking a daily average. The court holds that EPA's modification of the regulations is not arbitrary or capricious. EPA states that it intended the 0.5 milliliter limitation to be an instantaneous maximum that is never to be exceeded, and its conclusion that the 0.5 milliliter limit is achievable is supported by its research study. The fact that EPA cannot unequivocally demonstrate that the data base included samples taken during peak flow periods does not invalidate EPA's conclusion; the coal operators had every incentive to obtain samples at high flow periods since they knew the information would be used in developing regulations that affected their operations.

Counsel for Petitioner
Michael B. Barr
Hunton & Williams
2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 955-1515

Counsel for Respondent
Joseph Freedman
Office of General Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M St. SW, Washington DC 20024
(202) 475-8040

Before RUSSELL and HALL, Circuit Judges, and DOUMAR, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.