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Koppers Co. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

decided: July 8, 1985.

KOPPERS COMPANY, INC., PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, RESPONDENT



Petition for Review Environmental Protection Agency.

Aldisert, Chief Judge, Gibbons, Circuit Judge, and Bechtle, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Per Curiam

In this appeal we must review the propriety of a decision by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency that a variance provision of the Clean Water Act does not apply to pretreatment standards. Because we hold that the Administrator's decision was not arbitrary or capricious, we deny the petition for review.

I.

Koppers Company has two merchant coke manufacturing plants at Erie, Pennsylvania and Toledo, Ohio that are "pretreaters." Pretreaters send their wastestreams to publicly owned treatment works ("POTW") for additional treatment prior to the POTW's discharge of the wastestreams into navigable waters. By July 10, 1985, the two Koppers plants must comply with EPA-promulgated pretreatment standards for existing sources in the cokemaking subcategory of the iron and steel manufacturing point source category. 40 C.F.R. § 420.05,.15(b) (1984).

Koppers requested that EPA modify the categorical pretreatment standards for ammonia and phenols at its two plants and impose less stringent standards pursuant to § 301(g) of the Clean Water Act. 33 U.S.C. § 1311(g). On July 31, 1984, the EPA Administrator took final action denying Koppers' § 301(g) variance request on the ground that § 301(g) does not authorize modification of categorical pretreatment standards.

II.

Koppers argues that, for various reasons, the Administrator's denial of its variance request was based upon an erroneous interpretation of the Clean Water Act. In National Association of Metal Finishers v. EPA, 719 F.2d 624 (3d Cir. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 470 U.S. 116, 105 S. Ct. 1102, 84 L. Ed. 2d 90, 53 U.S.L.W. 4193, (1985), this court established the standard of review of such an agency action:

Under section 10(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act, we may not invalidate agency actions unless we find them to be "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law." 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A) (1976). This standard sets the level of deference with which we must review the agency's actions for their statutory authority, substantive validity and procedural regularity. . . .

We must extend "great deference to the interpretation given the statute by the officers or agency charged with its administration." . . . If an act is susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation, we must accept any reasonable interpretation chosen by the agency. . . . If the agency rejects the reasonable interpretation of the statute, however, we must "honor the clear meaning of a statute, as revealed by its language, purpose and history."

Id. at 636-37 (citations omitted). The Administrator's decision must therefore be upheld if his interpretation of the statute is reasonable, or put another way, appellant must show that the interpretation was unreasonable.

III.

We believe that this narrow standard of review is dispositive of this case. The petitioner has not met its burden of showing that the Administrator's decision was unreasonable. We therefore will deny the petition for review on the basis of the reasons set forth by William D. Ruckelshaus, the Administrator of the EPA, in his letter to the petitioner denying the variance, app. at 25-31, which is set forth in full in the appendix to this opinion.

APPENDIX

July 31, ...


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