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Sierra Club v. Hankinson

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20280
Nos. 1:94-cv-2501-MHS, 939 F. Supp. 865/(N.D. Ga., 03/25/1996)

The court holds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted arbitrarily and capriciously in approving Georgia's total maximum daily load (TMDL) submission, which did not comply with Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) requirements. Georgia submitted TMDLs over 13 years after the statutory deadline. Plaintiff environmental organizations sought to compel EPA to determine the full scope of the water quality limited segments (WQLSs) in Georgia; identify Georgia's WQLSs; prioritize them; and establish TMDLs for the WQLSs, or establish a schedule with Georgia for the submission of TMDLs for all WQLSs. The court first holds that although there is evidence that the state has narrative standards and that it did not consider these standards in formulating the 1994 WQLS list, the record is unclear as to what the applicable narrative standards were and whether the state considered them. Accordingly, there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment on whether EPA's approval of Georgia's WQLS list was arbitrary and capricious. The court also holds that EPA does not have a mandatory duty to monitor a state's water under the FWPCA.

The court next holds that the Georgia TMDLs do not satisfy FWPCA requirements, because they fail to provide daily limits for priority pollutants on identified WQLSs and they do not account for seasonal violations. EPA's failure to approve or disapprove the state's inadequate TMDL submissions was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Also, EPA's failure to promulgate TMDLs violates the FWPCA.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Eric E. Huber
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
400 Magazine St., Ste. 401, New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 522-1394

Counsel for Defendants
S. Randall Humm
Environmental and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000