Champion International Corp. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

850 F.2d 182 (1988)

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Champion International Corp. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
850 F.2d 182 (1988)

Facts

In 1983, Tennessee complained to North Carolina that the discharge permit issued to Champion International Corporation (Champion) (plaintiff), a North Carolina company, violated Tennessee water quality standards. Tennessee requested that Champion remove more color from its discharge. Tennessee, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant), and North Carolina met to develop a new permit. North Carolina issued a new permit to Champion. The EPA objected on grounds that the new permit did not adequately respond to Tennessee’s concerns, did not meet federal color-control standards, and did not clearly require Champion to comply with color-control standards. North Carolina did not modify the permit. In 1985, the EPA informed Champion that it had formally assumed authority over Champion’s permit. Champion sued in federal district court for a declaratory judgment and an injunction, arguing that the EPA had no authority to preempt North Carolina’s control of permitting. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the EPA on grounds that the EPA had not exceeded its authority. The 1977 legislative history of amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) stated that the EPA had been too hesitant to act when states created pollution havens. The legislative history also stated that the EPA was expected to use its expanded authority under the amendments if a state refused to issue a revised permit after EPA objections. A 1977 amendment to the CWA gave the EPA authority to issue its own permit once it had disapproved a state’s permit. The EPA argued that judicial review of its actions was inappropriate because it had not yet approved or denied Champion’s application for a permit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Widener, J.)

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