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Virginia v. United States

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 20816
Nos. No. 95-2229, 74 F.3d 517/(4th Cir., 02/02/1996)

The court holds that a district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Virginia's constitutional challenge to Clean Air Act (CAA) Titles I and V. The state alleged that Titles I and V of the Act violate the Spending Clause, the Guarantee Clause, and the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court holds that the district court is without jurisdiction in this case, because review was available in the federal circuit court under CAA §307(b)(1) and that review is exclusive. Although framing its complaint as a constitutional challenge to the Act, the practical objective of Virginia's complaint is reversal of final actions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding Virginia's Titles I and V programs. Jurisdiction under §307(b)(1) turns on whether final agency action is the target of the claim, regardless of whether the claim is based on the Constitution. Moreover the CAA's authorization for citizen suits in district courts does not undermine exclusive jurisdiction of federal circuit courts under the CAA to review final actions by EPA, regardless of the fact that the CAA citizen suit provision does not preempt any other available remedies. Further, policy reasons underlying the CAA's allowance of review of final agency actions only by petition to federal circuit courts supports dismissal of the state's district court action.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Roger L. Chaffe, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
101 N. 8th St., 5th Fl., Richmond VA 23219
(804) 786-2071

Counsel for Defendants
Jeffrey P. Kehne
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Powell* (retired) and Murnaghan, JJ.