Arkansas Poultry Federation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

852 F.2d 324 (1988)

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Arkansas Poultry Federation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
852 F.2d 324 (1988)

Facts

Clean Water Act (CWA) § 307(b) proposed pretreatment standards for discharge of pollutants through a publicly owned treatment works (POTW). The provision barred discharge of pollutants that would interfere with or pass through a POTW. In 1987, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant) published final rules defining interference and pass through. Section § 403.3(i) of 40 C.F.R. defined a discharge giving rise to interference as one that, alone or together with discharges from other sources, disrupted the operations of a POTW and caused a violation of the POTW’s discharge permit or problems with sludge disposal. Section § 403.3(n) of 40 C.F.R. defined pass through to mean a discharge that exited the POTW in concentrations that caused a violation of the POTW’s permit. The EPA’s 1987 rules also provided dischargers with affirmative defenses. A discharger would not be liable if it did not know or have reason to know that its discharge would cause a problem for the POTW and if it could show either that its discharge of pollutants was within local numerical limits or not substantially different than it had been when the POTW was in compliance. Earlier, the Third Circuit had rejected an EPA definition of interference that did not require the EPA to show that a discharge caused the POTW’s problems. The Arkansas Poultry Federation (APF) (plaintiff) challenged the EPA’s 1987 regulations, arguing that the Third Circuit’s holding required the EPA to show both that a discharger caused a POTW’s problems and significantly contributed to the POTW’s problems. The APF also argued that the new regulations were unconstitutionally vague. The EPA argued that dischargers could be certain they had complied with the law either by following local effluent limits or by considering the history of the POTW’s compliance.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McMillan, J.)

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