Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. U.S. E.P.A., No. 80-1607

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation273 U.S.App.D.C. 180,859 F.2d 156
Docket NumberNo. 80-1607
Decision Date30 December 1988
Parties, 273 U.S.App.D.C. 180, 57 USLW 2185, 19 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,016 NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC., Petitioner, v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY and Lee M. Thomas, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Respondents, Chemical Manufacturers Association, American Iron & Steel Institute, Edison Electric Institute, et al., Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co., et al., Tenneco Oil Company, et al., Atlantic Cement Company, Inc., et al., National Coal Association, General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Alabama Power Company, et al., Intervenors.

Page 156

859 F.2d 156
28 ERC 1401, 273 U.S.App.D.C. 180, 57
USLW 2185,
19 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,016
NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, INC., Petitioner,
v.
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY and Lee M. Thomas,
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, Respondents,
Chemical Manufacturers Association, American Iron & Steel
Institute, Edison Electric Institute, et al., Cincinnati Gas
& Electric Co., et al., Tenneco Oil Company, et al.,
Atlantic Cement Company, Inc., et al., National Coal
Association, General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company,
Alabama Power Company, et al., Intervenors.
No. 80-1607.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Jan. 27, 1988.
Decided Sept. 20, 1988.
As Amended Sept. 20, Nov. 1, and Dec. 30, 1988.

Ronald J. Wilson, Washington, D.C., for environmentalist petitioner Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. in 80-1607, 81-1575 and 85-1505, intervenor in 81-1573, 85-1577 and 81-1709. J. Tayler Banks and Stephen H. Schroeder, Washington, D.C., also entered appearances for Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

Theodore L. Garrett, Kristy A. Niehaus, Washington, D.C., Robert E. Holden, New Orleans, La., and Robert A. Emmett, with whom Michael K. Glenn, Washington, D.C., Gene W. Lafitte, George J. Domas, New Orleans, La., Ralph M. Mellom, George W. House, Greensboro, N.C., Corinne A. Goldstein, Joseph M. Fisher, Michael B. Barr, Washington, D.C., Robert J. Wise, John W. Casey, Turner T. Smith, Jr. and William B. Ellis, Richmond, Va., were on the joint brief for industry petitioners Chemical Mfrs. Ass'n, et al., in Nos. 80-1607, et al.

Margaret N. Strand, Stephen L. Samuels, Attys., Dept. of Justice, and Pamela Savage, Atty., E.P.A., with whom Roger J. Marzulla, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., Dept. of Justice, Francis S. Blake, Gen. Counsel, E.P.A., Susan G. Lepow, Associate Gen. Counsel, E.P.A., and Ashley Doherty, Elliott P. Laws and Lawrence R. Liebesman, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for respondents in Nos. 80-1607, et al. Michael Carlton and David T. Buente, Jr., Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., also entered appearances for respondents.

Stark Ritchie, David Lindgren, James K. Jackson, Washington, D.C., Arnold S. Block, Philadelphia, Pa., Richard H. Caldwell, Houston, Tex., and Richard E. Powers, Jr., Washington, D.C., entered appearances for American Petroleum Institute, et al., petitioners in 80-1660, 80-1875, 80-1881, 81-1577, 81-1709 and 85-1010.

Thomas M. Lemberg and Leonard A. Miller, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for The Ferroalloys Ass'n, petitioner in 80-1723.

Page 163

Roger S. Greene, Irvine, Cal., entered an appearance for Citizens for a Better Environment, etc., et al., in 80-1740, 80-2114 and 82-1563.

Leonard A. Miller and Kenneth A. Strassner, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Kimberly-Clark Corp., petitioner in No. 80-1809.

Joseph H. Price, Washington, D.C., and Roger Sterlow entered appearances for Avtex Fibers, Inc., petitioner in 80-1837.

William R. Weissman, Washington, D.C., entered an appearance for Edison Elec. Institute, et al., petitioners in 80-1889.

John R. Quarles, Jr. and Kenneth A. Rubin, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Stablex Corp., petitioner in 80-1909.

Peter J. Nickles, Charles H. Montange and Kenneth E. Carroll, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corp., et al., petitioners in 80-1914.

Walter G. Talarek and Seth Goldberg, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for American Wood Preservers Institute, petitioner in 80-1923, 85-1025 and 85-1128 and intervenor in 80-1607.

John N. Hanson, Washington, D.C., entered an appearance for American Mining Congress, et al., petitioners in 80-1927.

Lisa Anderson, Washington, D.C., entered an appearance for Texas Oil & Gas Corp., petitioner in 80-1929.

John W. Behringer, Jonathan Z. Cannon and Karl S. Bourdeau, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for The Dow Chemical Co., petitioner in 80-1933.

John B. Fahey, East Hartford, Conn., entered an appearance for United Technologies Corp., et al., petitioners in 80-1966.

Louis E. Tosi, Julius J. Hollis, Douglas G. Haynam and Leonard F. Charla, Detroit, Mich., entered appearances for General Motors Corp., petitioner in 80-1970, 81-1757 and intervenor in 80-1607.

John T. Smith, II and Clare Dalton, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Chemical Mfrs. Ass'n, et al., petitioners in 80-1975 and intervenors in 80-1978.

Khristine L. Hall and Robert V. Percival, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Environmental Defense Fund, Inc., petitioner in 80-1978 and intervenor in 80-1607.

John D. Fognani, Denver, Colo., and John D. Austin, Jr., Washington, D.C., entered appearances for American Min. Congress, et al., petitioners in 80-1987.

Norton F. Tennille, Jr. and Lester Sotsky, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Amax, Inc., petitioner in 80-2002.

Blake A. Biles, Washington, D.C., entered an appearance for The Lubrizal Corp., petitioner in 80-2007.

Alfred V.J. Prather, Carl B. Nelson, Jr. and Edwin H. Seeger, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Kennecott Corp., petitioner in 80-2279 and 81-1574 and intervenor in 85-1019.

Robert E. Payne and David E. Evans, Richmond, Va., entered appearances for American Paper Institute, et al., petitioners in 81-1573 and intervenors in 80-1978.

John McN. Cramer and Daniel A. Masur, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for The American Iron & Steel Institute, et al., petitioners in 81-1576 and 85-1009 and intervenor in 80-1607.

Larry B. Feldcamp, Houston, Tex., Charles M. Darling, IV, J. Patrick Berry and Stephen Teichler, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Pennzoil Corp., petitioner in 81-1708.

T.S. Ellis III, Richmond, Va., entered an appearance for Ford Motor Co., petitioner in 81-1748.

Lewis T. Smoak, Greenville, S.C., entered an appearance for American Textile Mfrs. Institute, Inc., petitioner in 85-1017.

Charles D. Ossola, Washington, D.C., entered an appearance for National Coal Ass'n, petitioner in 85-1024.

Charles S. Mullen, Seattle, Wash., entered an appearance for Wyckoff Co., petitioner in 85-1067.

William C. Brashares, Washington, D.C., entered an appearance for National Solid Wastes Management Assoc., intervenor in 80-1607.

Page 164

Charles M. Darling, IV, J. Patrick Berry and Stephen L. Teichler, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Tenneco Oil Co., et al., intervenors in 80-1607, 81-1575 and 81-1577.

George L. Edgar and Thomas A. Schmutz, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Project Management Corp., intervenor in 80-1607.

William R. Weissman, Thomas H. Truitt and Charles C. Abeles, Washington, D.C., entered appearances for Cincinnati Gas & Elec. Co., et al., intervenors in 80-1607.

George C. Freeman, Jr., Richmond, Va., and William E. Anderson, II, Danville, Va., entered appearances for Virginia Elec. & Power Co., et al., intervenors in 81-1575 and 81-1577.

Kathleen M. Falk, Madison, Wis., entered an appearance for Wisconsin's Environmental Decade, Inc., amicus curiae, in 80-1740.

Before ROBINSON, STARR and WILLIAMS, * Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed PER CURIAM.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 Page
                 I. Ripeness 165
                 II. The NEPARelated Regulations 167
                 A. Permit Conditions Unrelated to Effluents--Ripeness 168
                 B. Permit Conditions Unrelated to Effluents--Merits 168
                 C. EffluentRelated Permit Conditions 170
                 D. Admissibility of Evidence in Permit Proceedings 171
                 III. State Program Requirements 172
                 A. Penalties and Participation--Ripeness 173
                 B. Penalties and Participation--Merits 173
                 1. Regulatory uniformity and state autonomy ..... 174
                 2. Public participation ......................... 175
                 3. Maximum penalties ............................ 178
                 C. EPA Veto Authority--Ripeness 181
                 D. EPA Veto Authority--Merits 182
                 IV. Toxicity Limitations 189
                 A. Statutory Authority 189
                 B. Technical Feasibility 189
                 C. Intrusion on State Authority 190
                 D. Procedural Claims 190
                 V. NonAdversary Panel Procedures 191
                 A. The Merits of the Procedures 192
                 1. Oral testimony and cross examination ......... 192
                 2. The panels' composition ...................... 193
                 B. Defects in the Mode of Adoption 194
                 VI. The Antibacksliding Controversy 195
                 A. The NSPS Issue 196
                 B. Attack on the BPJ Regulation--Ripeness 196
                 C. Attack on the BPJ Regulation--Merits 197
                 D. Application of the New WQA Rules 204
                 VII. Net/Gross Limits 204
                VIII. Upset Defense 205
                 A. Ripeness 205
                 B. Merits 206
                 IX. APA Continuance 211
                 A. Ripeness 211
                 B. Merits 212
                 1. Consistency with Clean Water Act scheme ...... 213
                 2. Consistency with section 558(c) .............. 214
                

Page 165

PER CURIAM:

These consolidated cases arise out of the Environmental Protection Agency's issuance of regulations implementing the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, established under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. Secs. 1251 et seq. (1982). The events leading up to these challenges are set forth fully in our prior opinion, which disposed of several issues. See NRDC v. EPA, 822 F.2d 104 (D.C.Cir.1987). This opinion addresses the remaining challenges, mounted by both environmental and industry petitioners. 1

Although numerous issues are raised, they fall into eight general areas or categories. The first set of challenges involves regulations promulgated by EPA in furtherance of its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. Secs. 4321 et seq. (1982). 2 Also challenged are regulations that (2) establish the rules for transfer of authority over the NPDES permitting program to the states and supervision of the state programs; 3 (3) permit the establishment of permit limits in terms of "toxicity"; (4) permit the use of non-adversary panel procedures ("NAPP" or "NAP procedures") for the issuance of initial permits and variances; (5) prohibit "backsliding" from permit limits when subsequent guidelines have become more lax; 4 and...

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101 practice notes
  • Texas Oil & Gas Ass'n v. U.S. E.P.A., Nos. 97-60042
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 10 Diciembre 1998
    ...the same category or subcategory when circumstances so warrant. As our sister court noted in Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA, 859 F.2d 156 (D.C.Cir.1988): "[N]othing in all this specifies that the EPA must apply these uniform guidelines uniformly to all point sources within industr......
  • Public Interest Research Group v. Hercules, Inc., Civ. A. No. 89-2291(JBS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • 31 Marzo 1993
    ...in compliance with the Act. This is the so-called "upset defense." (Footnotes omitted). Natural Resources Defense Council v. U.S.E.P.A., 859 F.2d 156, 206 (D.C.Cir.1988). Defendant states that triable issues of fact exist as to whether it is entitled to the upset defense for certain alleged......
  • Natural Res. Def. Council v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, Docket Nos. 13–1745(L), 13–2393(CON), 13–2757(CON).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 5 Octubre 2015
    ...and kind of pollutants in the water. See id. § 1312(a). WQBELs are set without regard to cost or technology availability. See NRDC v. EPA, 859 F.2d 156, 208 (D.C.Cir.1988) (“A technology-based standard discards its fundamental premise when it ignores the limits inherent in the technology. B......
  • Frilling v. Village of Anna, No. C-3-95-194.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • 14 Marzo 1996
    ...history supporting public participation, as applied to this regulation, see Natural Resources Defense Council v. United States EPA, 859 F.2d 156, 177 (D.C.Cir. Although the State of Ohio is required to comply with all requirements for state NPDES permit programs, including this one, this Co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
98 cases
  • Texas Oil & Gas Ass'n v. U.S. E.P.A., Nos. 97-60042
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 10 Diciembre 1998
    ...the same category or subcategory when circumstances so warrant. As our sister court noted in Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA, 859 F.2d 156 (D.C.Cir.1988): "[N]othing in all this specifies that the EPA must apply these uniform guidelines uniformly to all point sources within industr......
  • Public Interest Research Group v. Hercules, Inc., Civ. A. No. 89-2291(JBS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • 31 Marzo 1993
    ...in compliance with the Act. This is the so-called "upset defense." (Footnotes omitted). Natural Resources Defense Council v. U.S.E.P.A., 859 F.2d 156, 206 (D.C.Cir.1988). Defendant states that triable issues of fact exist as to whether it is entitled to the upset defense for certain alleged......
  • Natural Res. Def. Council v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, Docket Nos. 13–1745(L), 13–2393(CON), 13–2757(CON).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 5 Octubre 2015
    ...and kind of pollutants in the water. See id. § 1312(a). WQBELs are set without regard to cost or technology availability. See NRDC v. EPA, 859 F.2d 156, 208 (D.C.Cir.1988) (“A technology-based standard discards its fundamental premise when it ignores the limits inherent in the technology. B......
  • Frilling v. Village of Anna, No. C-3-95-194.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • 14 Marzo 1996
    ...history supporting public participation, as applied to this regulation, see Natural Resources Defense Council v. United States EPA, 859 F.2d 156, 177 (D.C.Cir. Although the State of Ohio is required to comply with all requirements for state NPDES permit programs, including this one, this Co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Permits and state permit programs
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • 23 Julio 2017
    ...limitations guidelines. EPA authority to promulgate the regulation was challenged in Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. EPA , 859 F.2d 156, 19 ELR 20016 (D.C. Cir. 1988). TECHNOLOGY-BASED TREATMENT REQUIREMENTS IN PERMITS 40 C.F.R. § 125.3 (2006) * * * (c) Methods of imposing technol......
  • Table of authorities
    • United States
    • Introduction to environmental law: cases and materials on water pollution control - 2d Edition
    • 23 Julio 2017
    ...Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. EPA, 822 F.2d 104 (D.C. Cir. 1987).........348 Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. EPA, 859 F.2d 156, 19 ELR 20016 (D.C. Cir. 1988) .................................................................................................. 411 Natural ......
  • Visual Rulemaking
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 48-8, August 2018
    • 1 Agosto 2018
    ...annual appropriations bills aimed at limiting agencies’ messaging to the American public. 69 he 61. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. EPA, 859 F.2d 156, 194 (D.C. Cir. 1988). 62. See, e.g. , Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief at 3, 23, 28, Am. Farm Bureau v. EPA, No. 3:15-cv-0016......

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