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Genuine Parts Co. v. Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20079
Nos. 16-1416, (D.C. Cir., 05/18/2018)

The D.C. Circuit vacated EPA's placement of the West Vermont Drinking Water Contamination site, a site of groundwater contamination beneath Indianapolis, Indiana, on the NPL. EPA used the hazard ranking system (HRS) to determine whether listing was appropriate. As part of that process, EPA assessed the site's aquifers and determined that two aquifers underlying the site should be treated as a single hydrologic unit because they were interconnected. Had EPA treated the aquifers separately, the final HRS score would not have qualified the site for listing. Petitioners challenged the listing, arguing that cross-sections of diagrams the Agency relied on in making this determination contradicted the Agency's decision. Petitioners pointed this out to EPA in their comments to the proposed rule, but EPA never addressed it in the rulemaking record. Neither has the Agency offered substantial evidence to support its finding of an interconnection nor stated a reasoned basis for overcoming the regulatory presumption of non-interconnection. The court held this rendered the listing arbitrary and capricious. By failing to address evidence that runs counter to its decision, EPA "entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem."