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BP Exploration & Oil, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
66 F.3d 784 (1995)
Pursuant to its authority under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant) issued a final rule regulating effluent limitations for pollutant discharge by offshore-oil-and-gas-extraction operations. The final rule comprised two stages of pollutant reduction. At the second stage, the EPA set the standards for the best available technology economically achievable (BAT) for toxic pollutants as well as two other standards for conventional pollutants and new sources of pollutants. The EPA was required to consider non-water-quality environmental impacts and energy requirements in setting the best available technology. The final rule affected 2,550 offshore oil-and-gas structures. Most of the waste from these offshore operations was produced water, which contained oil and grease. The EPA set daily maximum limits and monthly averages for the discharge of produced water based on improvements in gas-flotation technology. The EPA based its limitations on a composite study of 83 offshore oil-and-gas platforms. The EPA estimated based on the study that about 60 percent of the offshore operations could meet the new best-available-technology limitations. As an alternative to gas-flotation technology, the EPA considered requiring reinjection of produced water as the best available technology. However, the EPA determined that requiring reinjection of produced water would cost several billion dollars, have a negative impact on air emissions, require an excessive amount of energy to implement, and result in a 1 percent loss in total production. After the EPA issued the rule, BP Exploration & Oil, Incorporated and the American Petroleum Institute (plaintiffs) challenged the effluent standards of the final rule as too stringent. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Incorporated (plaintiff) challenged the effluent standards as too lenient.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Batchelder, J.)
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