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Coalition of Greater Minn. Cities v. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20111
Nos. No. A08-1198, (Minn. Ct. App., 05/12/2009)

A Minnesota appellate court upheld a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency rule governing phosphorus effluent discharges into state waters. A coalition of cities argued that because the rule provides that a discharger "may" rather than "shall" qualify for an exemption if it demonstrates that it can meet the standards for an exemption, the rule gives the agency "unbridled discretion" in violation of the state 's nondelegation doctrine and in excess of the agency's authority. The coalition had standing because the rule's application could interfere with the interests of its members. On its face, however, the rule—including its use of the term "may"—grants permissible discretion to the agency. The court gave weight to the agency’s statement that an exemption would be granted if the statutory criteria were met, so long as there was not an overarching water quality reason not to grant it. In addition, the agency did not exceed its authority or violate notice-and-comment procedures, and the rule was not "overly prescriptive."