7 ELR 20652 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1977 | All rights reserved

Lubrizol Corporation v. Environmental Protection Agency

No 75-2186 (D.C. Cir. August 12, 1977)

ELR Digest

Finding that it has exclusive jurisdiction to review the regulations in question, the court holds that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may not regulate motor oil and motor oil additives under § 211 of the Clean Air Act. Section 211, 42 U.S.C. § 1857f-6c, ELR 41214-15, authorizes EPA to regulate fuel additives by requiring registration, description, testing, and, if necessary, prohibition of use. In 1974, EPA expanded its list of additives to include motor vehicle engine oil, such as that produced by petitioner. 39 Fed. Reg. 8929 (1974).

Petitioner sought review of these regulations in the D.C. Circuit under § 307(b)(1) and simultaneously filed a parallel complaint in the Northern District of Ohio, claiming in the latter case that § 307(b)(1) applied only to "prohibitions and controls" in § 211(c) rather than to the regulatory provisions of § 211(a), (b). The district court found jurisdiction under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 702, ELR 41005, Lubrizol Corp. v. Train, No. C76-7 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 3, 1976), but the Sixth Circuit reversed. Lubrizol Corp. v. Train, 547 F.2d 310, 7 ELR 20106 (6th Cir. 1976).

Although the proceedings in the Sixth Circuit raised the same issues of law as raised in this direct review proceeding, the court does not reach whether that earlier case is res judicata. Rather, it adds several factors bolstering the conclusion that original exclusive review lies in the D.C. Circuit. First, § 211 is a unitary process of imposing controls or prohibitions that deserves unitary review. Accord, International Harvester Co. v. Ruckelshaus, 478 F.2d 615, 3 ELR 20133 (D.C. Cir. 1973). Also, §§ 211(a), (b) act as prohibitions and controls by subjecting manufacturers to fines for not complying with their reporting provisions. Finally, petitioner's jurisdictional argument would irrationally parse the older parts of § 211(b) from the parts of § 211(b) added in 1970, requiring notification of additive concentration under the former to be reviewed in district courts while requiring the analytical techniques used to determine such concentration under the latter to be reviewed in the D.C. Circuit.

As to the merits, petitioner attacks EPA's regulations, 40 C.F.R. § 79.31(a), that require that motor oil additives be registered. EPA does not rely on a broad definition of fuel, 40 C.F.R. § 79.2(c), which encompasses virtually all organic and many inorganic substances that produce energy. Rather, EPA takes the policy-oriented approach that fuel additive regulation is aimed at reducing toxic and corrosive motor vehicle emissions. Petitioner takes a third approach: the assertedly common sense understanding of "fuel" as substances used to propel motor vehicles.

Nothing in § 211 suggests that Congress meant to use "fuel" in any but its common sense meaning. See, e.g., Addison v. Holly Hill Co., 322 U.S. 607 (1944). Neither does the legislative history suggest that Congress intended § 211 to reach all factors that might affect emissions.Were EPA allowed jurisdiction over all factors affecting emissions, it conceivably could regulate methods of auto maintenance. Furthermore, congressional debates tended to use the terms "fuel" and "gasoline" interchangeably. Even though EPA has shown that motor vehicle lubricants may harmfully affect emissions, that is not enough to warrant substituting EPA's well-meaning interpretation for clear congressional language. Accord, Mobil Oil Corp. v. FPC, 463 F.2d 256 (D.C. Cir. 1972).

Accordingly, the court invalidates 40 C.F.R. part 79 insofar as it applies to motor oil and motor oil additives.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (27 pp. § 3.50, ELR Order No. C-1128).

Counsel for Petitioner
Michael Scott (with William D. Kramer)
Cox, Langford & Brown
21 Dupont Circle, Washington DC 20036
(202) 785-0200

Counsel for Respondent
Earl Salo (with Peter R. Taft, Ass't Attorney General; Edmund B. Clark)
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-5267

McGowan, J., joined by Robinson & Wilkey, JJ.


7 ELR 20652 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1977 | All rights reserved