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Environmental Protection Agency v. National Crushed Stone Association

449 U.S. 64 (1980)

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Environmental Protection Agency v. National Crushed Stone Association

United States Supreme Court

449 U.S. 64 (1980)

Facts

Pursuant to the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (plaintiff) set nation-wide 1977 Best Practicable Control Standard (BPT) and 1987 Best Available Technology Economically Achievable Standard (BAT) effluent-pollution discharge limits for the coal-mining industry and for the mineral mining and processing industry. For the 1977 BPT standard, the EPA included a variance provision that did not take the economic ability of an individual discharger into account but did allow for a variance if the discharger could show that the cost to implement the BPT standard would be substantially greater than what the EPA had considered in setting the national standard. However, for the 1987 BAT standard, as per Section 301(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the EPA allowed variances based on the economic ability of an individual discharger to meet the BAT standard. The National Crushed Stone Association (NCSA) (defendant) challenged the BPT variance provision, arguing that an individual discharger’s economic ability to meet the BPT standard must be considered. The court of appeals ruled in favor of NCSA and held that Section 301(c) must also be applied to BPT variances, and that the EPA’s BPT variance language was too restrictive. The EPA appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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