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Idaho Conservation League v. Browner

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 21479
Nos. C96-807WD, -829WD, 968 F. Supp. 546/(W.D. Wash., 02/20/1997)

The court holds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to exercise its mandatory duty under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) to "promptly prepare and publish" federal regulations in lieu of state regulations when Idaho neglected to revise its water quality standards (WQSs) within 90 days after EPA disapproved of them. The court first holds that a June 25, 1996, letter from EPA constituted official disapproval of the WQSs submitted by Idaho. The letter said that it constituted "official notification." Moreover, the parties stipulated that the letter constituted final disapproval. The court next holds that EPA's duty under the FWPCA to "promptly prepare and publish proposed regulations" if a state fails to revise a disapproved standard within 90 days is mandatory. As a matter of law, EPA failed to perform its mandatory duty to prepare and publish WQSs for Idaho promptly because the Agency took almost two years to issue its disapproval and seven months have gone by since its disapproval. Finally, the court holds that EPA's failure to carry out duties clearly mandated by the FWPCA is arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law, and thus a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Todd D. True, Kristen L. Boyles
Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund
705 Second Ave., Ste. 203, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 343-7340

Counsel for Defendants
Brian C. Kipnis, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
3600 Sea-First Plaza Bldg.
800 5th Ave., Rm. 3601, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 553-7970