TONE, Circuit Judge.
These consolidated cases bring before us an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order granting a discharge permit under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 and a related District Court judgment. In No. 76-1616, United States Steel Corporation's petition for review of EPA's order granting a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the company's Gary Works pursuant to § 402 of the Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1342, 86 Stat. 880,
The cornerstone of the Act's scheme for cleaning up the nation's waters is § 301(a)'s prohibition against "the discharge of any pollutant by any person" except as specifically permitted by administrative action taken pursuant to specified sections of the Act. An existing source such as the Gary Works may obtain permission to discharge pollutants by applying for an NPDES permit
The Act provides for two kinds of restrictions on the discharge of pollutants. First, federal, technology-based effluent limitations are to be established in two stages, one set to be met by July 1, 1977, and to be based upon "the best practicable control technology currently available" (which we sometimes refer to as "1977 technology" or "BPT"), and the other to be met by July 1, 1983, and to be based on "the best available technology economically achievable." Section 301(b). Second, the states are allowed to impose more stringent limitations, including water quality standards, treatment standards, or schedules of compliance. Sections 301(b)(1)(C) and 510. See also EPA v. California ex rel. State Water Resources Control Board, supra, 426 U.S. at 219, 96 S.Ct. 2022. Congress thus has chosen not to preempt state regulation when the state has decided to force its industry to create new and more effective pollution-control technology.
In reviewing the U.S. Steel permit we are primarily concerned with the 1977 state and federal limitations. Except with respect to a final limitation on blast-furnace discharges, the additional federal limitations that become effective July 1, 1983 are not involved in this proceeding.
The Facts and Prior Proceedings
U.S. Steel's Gary Works occupies 3700 acres on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. An integrated steel mill, Gary Works produces coke, iron, steel, and primary and finished steel shapes. The plant draws water from Lake Michigan and each day discharges up to 775 million gallons of polluted water into the lake and into the Grand Calumet River, which flows into the lake. The discharges are made through five outfalls into the lake and 14 into the river.
The EPA Permit Proceeding
U.S. Steel's initial application for a discharge permit for its Gary Works was made in 1971, before the adoption of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. That application was submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers, which was charged with the responsibility of issuing permits under the Refuse Act.
EPA initially issued a permit for the Gary Works in October 1974, after having published notice of its proposed action. The permit contained effluent limitations, monitoring requirements, and additional conditions, together with a compliance schedule. U.S. Steel did not accept the permit but requested an administrative hearing pursuant to EPA regulations, 40 C.F.R. § 125.36. In its request, the company proposed permit conditions which it contended satisfied the Act, some of which would have allowed it to increase the amount of pollutants in its discharges.
After the hearing and a limited remand ordered by EPA, the Regional Administrator substantially approved the conditions contained in the permit, which had been formulated by the Regional Enforcement Division. U.S. Steel appealed, pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 125.36(n)(1), to the Administrator, who denied review. The permit was reissued by EPA on June 25, 1976, with a modified compliance schedule. U.S. Steel then filed its petition for review in this court.
The permit imposes technology-based limitations governing pH, total suspended solids (TSS), and oil and grease at each individual outfall.
The one outfall that the parties do not agree on is the iron-making blast-furnace outfall, # 017, which is U.S. Steel's major process-water outfall and the largest single source of pollution at the plant. The permit limitations on TSS at that outfall can
Other permit limitations, imposed because they are required by Indiana regulations, govern six chemicals, viz., ammonia, cyanide, phenol, chloride, sulphate, and fluoride. These limitations apply to the plant's river outfalls as a group and not to individual outfalls. There are also thermal limitations based on state water quality standards.
For all but the blast-furnace outfall, there are only "initial" limitations, which are effective until June 30, 1977, and "final" limitations, which apply from July 1, 1977 until the expiration of the permit on October 31, 1979. The initial limitations govern only pH, TSS, and oil and grease, except that at two outfalls, # 007 and # 017, ammonia, cyanide, and phenol are also covered. The final limitations govern temperature, pH, TSS, and oil and grease for all 19 outfalls and ammonia and other chemicals for the 14 river outfalls, including the blast-furnace outfall. For that outfall the permit also contains an intermediate step, "interim" limitations on total suspended solids, which are effective between July 1, 1977 and June 30, 1979, with the final limitations on TSS becoming effective July 1, 1979. Schedules of compliance are established to enforce these deadlines, and U.S. Steel is required to monitor its discharges in order to present proof of its compliance.
The permit also restricts U.S. Steel's discharges of acid wastes to a deep waste-injection well to their present level. The company is required to monitor these discharges also and to submit data relating to the deep well and the performance of treatability studies of the deep-well wastes.
The Action in the District Court
At the EPA administrative hearing, U.S. Steel attempted to challenge the validity and application of (1) the state water quality standards set out in Indiana regulations SPC 4R and SPC 7R-2; and (2) certain NPDES regulations contained in 40 C.F.R. part 125. The administrative law judge determined that he lacked jurisdiction to decide these matters and therefore refused to consider them at the hearing.
U.S. Steel then filed an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the issues the administrative law judge had declined to hear. Basing jurisdiction on 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 2201, 2202 and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 500, et seq., U.S. Steel asked for the following relief:
U.S. Steel moved for a preliminary injunction to stay the administrative hearing pending the District Court's decision on the merits. Following denial of the motion, an appeal was taken to this court. An application for stay of the administrative proceeding was denied, and after the administrative hearing was completed the appeal was dismissed as moot.
Thereafter the District Court, on EPA's motion, dismissed the complaint as failing to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The court explained its decision in an unreported memorandum, pointing out the inappropriateness of judicial interruption of an ongoing administrative process in the absence of irreparable injury or plain deprivation of constitutional right, the availability of judicial review of the administrative process in accordance with a specific statutory provision, and the general policy of avoiding piecemeal judicial review. U.S. Steel appeals from that judgment of dismissal.
There are several procedural issues to be considered in each appeal before reaching the validity of the permit conditions.
A. The Petition for Review: No. 76-1616
(1) Applicability of Administrative Procedure Act
The FWPCA requires the Administrator to provide an "opportunity for public hearing" before issuing a permit, § 402(a)(1). The agency has issued regulations providing for public hearings, held at the discretion of the Regional Administrator, 40 C.F.R. § 125.34, and separate adjudicatory hearings, held at the request of "any interested person" if the Regional Administrator approves, 40 C.F.R. § 125.36. Only an adjudicatory hearing was held on the permit now before us.
The FWPCA does not prescribe the procedures to be followed by the agency at these hearings. The parties disagree as to the applicability of the Administrative Procedure Act.
The absence of the words "on the record" is not conclusive, however. See Phillips Petroleum Co. v. FPC, 475 F.2d 842, 851 (10th Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1146, 94 S.Ct. 901, 39 L.Ed.2d 102 (1974). Section 509(b)(1) of the FWPCA subjects proceedings under specified sections of the Act to judicial review in a court of appeals. Of the enumerated sections, only § 307, providing for toxic and pretreatment effluent standards, contains the words "on the record." Section 307(a)(2). The presence of these words in one section and their absence from the others is outweighed, however, by other considerations. It seems improbable that Congress would have contemplated that judicial review of proceedings under all the other sections enumerated in § 509(b)(1) would be conducted without a written record. Also pertinent is the language chosen by Congress in § 509(c) making that subsection applicable to "any judicial proceeding" under § 509(b) in which the determination under review is "required to be made on the record after notice and opportunity for hearing." This would have been an unusual way of singling out § 307 from all the sections listed in § 509(b).
Sections 556 and 557 are applicable for another reason: § 558(c) of the APA provides, independently of § 554 of that Act, that "[w]hen application is made for a license required by law" the agency shall hold proceedings which shall be "conducted in accordance with sections 556 and 557." Because this is a license application proceeding, §§ 556 and 557 apply whether or
The agency also argues that Congress must not have intended the APA to apply to NPDES permit proceedings under the FWPCA because the sheer number of those proceedings would make it impossible to observe the adjudicatory hearing requirements of the APA. On their face, §§ 556 and 557 apply to NPDES permit proceedings. We are not free to ignore the statutory words, which Congress has left unaltered, on grounds of expediency. And while the applicability of § 554 may not be as clear, the impossibility argument is not persuasive in any event. EPA has demonstrated in this case that in the relatively small percentage of cases in which applicants for NPDES permits demand hearings,
(2) Challenges to EPA Procedural Regulations
(a) Burden of Proof
U.S. Steel argues that the EPA regulation which puts the burden of proof on the applicant, 40 C.F.R. § 125.36(i)(1), violates 5 U.S.C. § 556(d), which requires "the proponent of a rule or order" to bear the burden of proof. The short answer to this contention is that U.S. Steel, as the applicant for a permit without which it would be forbidden by law to discharge pollutants, is the proponent. See Appalachian Power Co. v. Train, 545 F.2d 1351, 1358 (4th Cir. 1976).
A related argument is that because the parties were required to submit their evidence simultaneously in writing prior to the hearing, U.S. Steel was "unable to properly prepare to respond to the Government's evidence." Inasmuch as U.S. Steel properly bore the burden of proof, it seems to us that, if anything, it benefited by this procedure. In any event, § 556(d) expressly provides "for the submission of all or part of the evidence in written form" when an agency is considering an application for an initial license, as it was here, and the company neither showed that it was denied the right to offer evidence in rebuttal nor pointed to any prejudice that it suffered.
(b) Failure To Require Hearing Officer To Make Initial Decision
U.S. Steel attacks the EPA regulation which requires the Regional Administrator rather than the hearing officer to render the initial decision. 40 C.F.R. § 125.36(l)(1). This provision is said to violate 5 U.S.C. §§ 554(d) and 557(b). Section 554(d)(A), however, specifically exempts "applications for initial licenses" from the requirement that an agency employee who presides at the hearing make the recommended or initial decision. And § 557(b) states that the hearing officer shall decide the case "unless the agency requires, either
(c) Considerations Outside the Record
U.S. Steel asserts that the following EPA regulation violates 5 U.S.C. § 556(e):
Section 556(e) provides that the "transcript of testimony and exhibits, together with all papers and requests filed in the proceeding, constitutes the exclusive record for decision . . . ." While the regulation might have been more artfully worded, we believe it simply permits the Administrator to use his expertise in making decisions. We do not read it as authorizing him to base his decision on evidence outside the record. In any event, the Administrator did not state in this case that he was basing his decision to deny review on any matter outside the record, and we will not presume that he did so. Cf. 40 C.F.R. § 125.36(n)(9)(ii).
(3) Agency Refusal To Consider Validity of Procedural Regulations
U.S. Steel complains that it should have been allowed, at the administrative hearing, to challenge the EPA procedural regulations governing the permit proceeding. EPA responds that the agency was not required to consider these questions, inasmuch as it had already indicated its view of the matter by adopting the regulations. We think U.S. Steel cannot complain, so long as the validity of the regulations is subject to review by this court.
We have already considered and rejected U.S. Steel's challenges to specific regulations. U.S. Steel also asserts that the regulations in their entirety "are unlawful in that said regulations were improperly promulgated without notice or opportunity for comment. 5 U.S.C. § 553; `Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,' 30 Fed.Reg.No. 7, January 11, 1973." Without more, we are hardly in a position to evaluate this conclusory argument, to which EPA has not responded. Moreover, U.S. Steel's failure to show that it was prejudiced by the regulations makes further consideration of this argument unnecessary.
(4) Agency Refusal To Consider Validity of Indiana Water Quality Standards
The administrative law judge held that he was without jurisdiction to consider the validity of the Indiana water quality standards upon which certain limitations in the permit were based, a position the Administrator sustained. U.S. Steel contends that Indiana provides no judicial review of the validity of the standards and that due process therefore required the Administrator to determine the validity of those standards.
Under § 402(a)(1) of the FWPCA, the Administrator must condition the NPDES permit upon the discharger's meeting "all applicable requirements under sections 301," et al. Section 301(b)(1)(C) requires compliance by July 1, 1977 with
Section 510 preserves the right of any state to impose limitations more stringent than the federal limitations under the Act. Because the Administrator is required by the Act to include in the permit any more stringent state limitations, including those necessary to meet state water quality standards, and is given no authority to set aside or modify those limitations in a permit proceeding, he correctly ruled that he had no authority to consider challenges to the validity of the state water quality standards in such a proceeding.
Assuming that the state standards are consistent with the Act and are not reviewable in the state courts, as U.S. Steel contends they are not,
U.S. Steel relies on Consolidation Coal Co. v. EPA, 537 F.2d 1236 (4th Cir. 1976), which held that when there was no available state procedure for obtaining a hearing on the appropriateness of a state-originated durational limit which was to be included in an NPDES permit pursuant to a § 401(d) certification, due process required that EPA hold such a hearing prior to taking any final administrative action.
(5) Procedural and Evidentiary Rulings
We cannot consider vague contentions that there were unspecified "individual errors in procedure which violated either the Administrative Procedure Act . . . or the . . . regulations . . . or both." U.S. Steel's complaint regarding the Regional Administrator's alleged "wholesale verbatim adoption of most of the Staff's proposed findings" is not enough to permit us to conclude that he did not independently review the evidence, nor is its charge that he "complete[ly] fail[ed] to acknowledge contrary evidence." Nor can we review unspecified "clearly erroneous findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the deprivation of Petitioner's right to due process of law." Equally vague is the allegation of
Similarly unspecific are the attacks upon the testimony of the agency's experts as containing opinions they "were either not qualified to give or which were without foundation," or as "unsworn in large part," hearsay, or "legal conclusions." Even apart from the wide latitude allowed an administrative
B. The Appeal from the District Court: No. 76-1425
The appeal from the judgment of the District Court dismissing U.S. Steel's action also raises a series of procedural questions, some of which are related to those presented in the petition for review. We deal with these questions in the order in which they are alleged in the three counts of the complaint.
(1) Validity of Indiana Water Quality Standards (Count I)
U.S. Steel argues that the District Court should have required EPA to consider the constitutionality of the Indiana water quality standards. For the reasons stated above, the agency had no authority to consider the validity of those standards, and this relief was therefore properly denied by the District Court.
Nor could the District Court have properly granted U.S. Steel's alternative request that the court itself review the validity of those standards under the United States Constitution. As we have seen, the standards are state, not federal, regulations, and the Administrator was required by the Act to include in the permit any discharge limitations necessary to meet them. While these state regulations, like any other state regulation or statute, can be challenged on federal constitutional grounds in a federal action against the appropriate state officials in a district in which jurisdiction and venue are proper, this was not such an action.
The District Court in this case, however, did have authority to review the Administrator's approval, prior to the permit proceeding, of the Indiana water quality standards as consistent with the FWPCA.
(2) Validity of EPA Regulations (Counts II and III)
Also properly dismissed was U.S. Steel's claim that the District Court should either have itself held invalid the NPDES substantive and procedural regulations, or ordered EPA to consider their validity in the permit proceeding. As we have already held, this court is the proper forum for challenging those regulations on review of EPA's permit order. We have considered the challenges asserted and found them to be without merit.
We therefore affirm the judgment of the District Court in No. 76-1425, dismissing U.S. Steel's complaint. We now return to the petition for review, No. 76-1616, and consider U.S. Steel's challenges to specific conditions of the permit.
A. Limitations Required by State Law or Regulation
The limitations on the six chemicals, ammonia, cyanide, phenol, chloride, sulphate and fluoride, and the thermal limitations are, as we have seen, state limitations adopted by Indiana pursuant to its plenary power preserved by § 510. They were included in the permit because § 402(a)(1) required the Administrator to condition the discharge permit on compliance with "all applicable requirements" of, inter alia,
(1) Chemical Limitations
The limitations for the six chemicals are aggregate weight limits on the total discharges that may be made from all the outfalls at which those chemicals are discharged, which are the river outfalls. The allowable discharges are not allocated among the individual outfalls.
In challenging these limitations, U.S. Steel argues that the water quality standards on which certain limitations are based are invalid. As we have held in Parts III, A(4) and III, B(1), supra, however, those standards are not subject to review in either of the appeals presently before us. The company also argues that the limitations on the six chemicals are impossible to achieve with present technology. Even if this is true,
U.S. Steel also asserts in conclusory terms that the limitations on the six chemicals are not based upon substantial evidence and are arbitrary. If this is intended as an argument that the allocations are more stringent than would be necessary to achieve the water quality standards, it fails for two reasons:
First, notwithstanding EPA's overgenerous concession to the contrary,
Second, even if a necessity argument could be entertained in this proceeding, U.S. Steel has presented its objections in such a general and conclusory way that we doubt such an argument was intended. Assertions that the limitations are "not based upon substantial evidence" and "not supported by accurate data and analysis and sound scientific principles," without elaboration or discussion of the information in the record which is pertinent to each limitation, cannot be considered.
We accordingly overrule the objections to the limitations on the six chemicals.
(2) Thermal Limitations
The permit also establishes limitations, effective July 1, 1977, on the temperature of the adjacent receiving waters of Lake Michigan and the Grand Calumet River after admixture of the discharges.
If the company's showing is successful, EPA may set less stringent thermal limitations, provided they still meet the aquatic-life requirements. U.S. Steel challenges both the thermal limitations and the thermal demonstration provisions of the permit.
U.S. Steel also objects to the "thermal discharge demonstration" provision of the permit, included pursuant to § 316(a), which offers the company an opportunity to demonstrate that the thermal limitations imposed by the permit are more stringent than necessary to protect aquatic life. First, U.S. Steel argues that it is unfair to make such a demonstration "the sole method by which a permittee can obtain relief from improper thermal limitations, [especially] . . . where the permittee is attacking the validity of the thermal limitations themselves." We have held, however, that U.S. Steel cannot challenge the validity of the thermal limitations in this proceeding. The fairness argument must be addressed to the Congress, not this court.
Second, the company argues that the permit improperly applied § 316(a) and its implementing regulations, 40 C.F.R. part 122. See Appalachian Power Co. v. Train, supra, 545 F.2d at 1371-1372. The argument that the Grand Calumet River would not exist, much less contain a balanced aquatic life, without U.S. Steel's discharges from Gary Works goes to the validity of the thermal limitations themselves, and is therefore not available in this proceeding. The argument that the study requirements are too vague to enable the company to comply with them does not persuade us. Accordingly, the thermal discharge demonstration provision is upheld.
B. Technology-Based Effluent Limitations
(1) At All Outfalls Except # 017
U.S. Steel attacks all the effluent limitations indiscriminately as arbitrary and unsupported by substantial evidence. Its broadside argument, if read literally, is that no limitation for any outfall is supported by substantial evidence and all are arbitrary. It should first be noted that an examination of the Regional Administrator's decision shows that U.S. Steel did not object before the agency to many of the limitations. Moreover, U.S. Steel's brief does not particularize its claim with respect to any outfall or limitation. As we said in considering the challenge to the limitations on discharges of the six chemicals, a court will not, in response to such a general assertion of error, sift a vast administrative record, only a portion of which has even been brought before it by the parties, for evidence arguably bearing on each limitation. In view of U.S. Steel's failure to particularize, it is not surprising that EPA's brief does not address itself to individual limitations. This means, however, that we have no guidance from either side in analyzing the evidence relating to particular limitations.
We would forfeit the benefits of the adversary system if we undertook the independent and unassisted search for error which would be necessary to determine the accuracy of U.S. Steel's general assertion of arbitrariness and lack of record support. This court will consider a challenge to an effluent limitation in an NPDES permit only if our attention is directed by the petitioner's brief to the specific limitation and the alleged deficiencies in the supporting evidence or reasoning of the agency.
(a) Statistical Analysis
As we noted above, EPA and U.S. Steel agree that BPT is currently in place at all outfalls but # 017 (which is discussed separately below). The company argues that technology-based limitations on those outfalls should be no more stringent than past operating levels, but EPA contends that in certain instances past operations do not reflect the careful and efficient operations required under the NPDES permit program. The past operating levels are reflected in the monitoring data included in the monthly reports submitted by U.S. Steel to the Indiana Stream Pollution Control Board from 1973 to 1975.
There are two additional reasons for rejecting the U. S. Steel proposal. First, we agree with the testimony of the EPA witnesses that one of the goals of the NPDES permit program is to insure that pollution-control facilities are operated as efficiently and carefully as possible. The U. S. Steel proposal, with effluent limitations derived from data taken before the permit was issued, may build in a factor for human or mechanical lapses that should not be tolerated.
Second, the limits proposed by U. S. Steel would, as EPA observes in its brief, actually allow an increase in the discharge of pollutants from Gary Works.
(b) Surface-Runoff Effects
U. S. Steel next argues that, if the more lenient effluent limitations it proposes are not accepted, then at least monitoring samples taken during periods of surface runoff resulting from rainfall or melting snow should be disregarded in determining compliance with the NPDES permit.
As is demonstrated by the testimony of EPA witness McDermott, also an EPA engineer formerly employed by U. S. Steel, the agency considered surface-runoff effects in developing the effluent limitations for Gary Works. EPA's analysis revealed that the surface runoff from a day-long storm of .4 inches per hour, over the entire drainage area of Gary Works, would comprise only slightly over 10 percent of the plant's total water discharges for that day. The process-water portion of this total volume
Finally, we note that U. S. Steel itself offered no proof of the extent of this supposed surface-runoff effect on the Gary Works. The rainfall data that were presented were based on conditions at Midway Airport in Chicago, and even this information was not correlated with particular high discharge values revealed by the data from the 29 months of monitoring. Thus we are unable to determine what effect surface runoffs have had on the discharge levels or the treatment facilities at the Gary Works.
Accordingly, EPA was not required to accept U. S. Steel's contention that exemptions should be granted for surface runoffs.
(2) Outfall # 017
(a) BPT and Variance
Before the issuance of the October 1974 permit in this case, EPA promulgated single-number effluent guidelines and limitations for the iron and steel manufacturing point-source category. 39 Fed. Reg. 24114 (June 28, 1974); 40 C.F.R. part 420.
In American Iron & Steel Institute v. EPA, 526 F.2d 1027 (3d Cir. 1975) (AISI (I)), the steel industry challenged various aspects of the regulations, but did not attack the 1977 TSS limitations based on the conclusion that recycling was BPT. The Third Circuit, while remanding the 1977 regulations, explicitly upheld the new-source and 1983 limitations on TSS discharges from iron-making blast furnaces, thereby approving recycling-based limitations twice as stringent as the 1977 limitations. The court's remand was based in large part on its conclusion that § 301 limitations must specify a range of effluent reductions attainable through the application of BPT rather than single numbers. Apart from the fact that the Supreme Court's approval of single-number effluent limitations in duPont renders this conclusion questionable, even the Third Circuit's remand dealt only with the agency's § 304(b)(1)(A) calculation of the "degree of effluent reduction attainable" by installing blast-furnace recycling; the underlying § 304(b)(1)(B) determination that recycling constitutes BPT remained unaffected. Thus, whether or not the entire iron and steel guidelines and limitations are resurrected by the duPont decision, the treatment in AISI (I) of the TSS limitations for iron-making blast furnaces leaves unimpeached EPA's conclusion that recycling is BPT.
U. S. Steel challenges EPA's determination that blast-furnace recycling constitutes BPT for the iron-making process at the Gary Works on three grounds: (1) EPA failed to consider the six factors set forth in § 304(b)(1)(B) as "relating to the assessment of [BPT]," and therefore the agency's designation of recycling as BPT was improper. (2) Installation of a recycling system would cause violations of the sulphate limits in the permit, and therefore recycling is not a "practicable" technology for Gary Works. (3) A recycling system cannot be built and placed in operation at Gary Works before July 1, 1977, and therefore is not "currently available" to U. S. Steel.
To begin with, we believe it was unnecessary for EPA to reexamine the BPT question following the remand in AISI (I). As duPont makes clear, technology-based § 301 effluent limitations and § 304 guidelines, and necessarily the BPT on which they are based, are uniform national standards and are not to vary from plant to plant. duPont v. Train, supra, 430 U.S. at 127, 130-132, 136-137, 97 S.Ct. at 974, 976, 979; see also AISI v. EPA, supra, 526 F.2d at 1043. When no limitations or guidelines are yet available, NPDES permits are to be issued under § 402(a)(1) upon "such conditions as the Administrator determines are necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act." See Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Train, 166 U.S.App.D.C. 312, 510 F.2d 692, 709-710 (1975). We believe that under these circumstances the BPT to be ascertained by EPA is still a uniform national standard for the class or category of plants of which the plant in question is a member. Therefore, even if the applicable BPT had not already been determined, the appropriate inquiry for EPA would have been, not what constituted BPT for the Gary Works, but what constituted BPT for the category and class of point sources of which the Gary Works was a member. In fact, however, EPA had already determined BPT for iron-making blast furnaces in developing the limitations which were remanded in AISI (I). This BPT determination, and the nationally uniform TSS limitations based thereon, unimpeached, as we have seen, by the AISI (I) remand, constitutes a proper basis for establishing the TSS limitations in the permit for the Gary Works. It was unnecessary for EPA to consider the § 304(b)(1)(B) factors anew in this proceeding or otherwise reexamine the BPT issue.
The proper inquiry for EPA, in establishing the permit limitations in this proceeding, was whether the circumstances of the individual plant warranted a variance from the nationally uniform limitations. Although the Act itself provides for individual source variances only from the 1983 limitations,
The agency's reexamination of the BPT issue as if it were obligated to determine BPT for the Gary Works individually was the equivalent of determining whether there were fundamentally different factors at that plant which made BPT impracticable there and thus justified a variance from nationally applicable limitations based on BPT. From EPA's conclusion that recycling was "BPT for the Gary Works" it follows that the plant was not entitled to a variance. We now examine the facts and reasoning underlying that conclusion.
In both the initial hearing and the hearing on remand EPA considered the Development Document and other information it had used in formulating the guidelines and limitations for the iron and steel industry.
It is undisputed that recycling significantly reduces TSS levels in water discharged from iron-making blast furnaces. Moreover, as McDermott testified, the reduction in water flow achieved by the recycling system also increases the concentration of other pollutants, thereby rendering them susceptible to treatment or disposal which would otherwise be impossible or uneconomic.
The Development Document notes that although a "majority of the [steel] plants around the country are operating on a once-through basis," recycling is employed as a water conservation device "in many plants." Spyropoulos testified that he helped design a recycling system similar to the one EPA proposes here; that system was installed at U. S. Steel's own South Works Plant in South Chicago by December 1970. Blast-furnace recycling is already in place at nearly all the iron-making facilities in the Chicago area; it is, as noted in the Development Document, "a well-established art."
Both McDermott and Spyropoulos testified that blast-furnace recycling could be installed at the Gary Works. Their testimony was based on an inspection of the plant, a survey of four different steel plants
EPA could reasonably conclude that, despite the age of the iron-making blast furnaces at Gary Works, retrofitting would be feasible. Recycling has been installed at U. S. Steel's older South Works Plant and other existing iron-making blast furnaces. Because it is a part of the post-process treatment, it does not require changes in the manufacturing process itself. EPA's conclusions demonstrate that a variance based on infeasibility of recycling for the Gary Works was not justified. Compare AISI v. EPA, supra, 526 F.2d at 1048.
We also reject U. S. Steel's argument that the TSS limitations based on recycling as BPT are improper because recycling would result in violations of other limitations in the permit, specifically those governing discharges of sulphate. This argument is based on the fact that the acidity-alkalinity control unit, which would be included in the proposed recycling system to minimize scaling, would use sulphuric acid to lower pH. See note 40, supra. This would increase discharges of sulphates above the levels allowed by the sulphate limitations of the permit.
The sulphate limits were based on the Indiana waste load allocations, and were included in the permit pursuant to § 301(b)(1)(C). Although these limits restrict U. S. Steel to its present discharges, and may be below the level necessary to maintain water quality in U. S. Steel's segments of the stream, they are the waste load allocations adopted by the Indiana Stream Pollution Control Board and approved by EPA, under § 303(d) of the Act. Thus the sulphate limits are not subject to challenge in this proceeding,
The sulphate limitations cannot be said to make recycling "impracticable" at Gary Works, and therefore not BPT under § 301(b)(1)(A) or § 304(b). As we observed above, the latter section provides for a determination of BPT which will be the basis for guidelines and effluent limitations that will be uniform throughout the nation. duPont v. Train, supra, 430 U.S. at 129, 97 S.Ct. at 975. See also Leg. Hist., at 156, 162, 170. BPT, being nationally applicable, cannot be affected by the circumstances at a single plant. The real question, therefore,
We believe they do not. The existence of state waste load allocations requiring limitations more stringent than the federal, technology-based limitations should not create a loophole through which compliance with the federal limitations may be evaded. Section 301(b)(1)(C) can hardly have been intended to authorize a state, by imposing limitations incompatible with BPT, to allow its industries to escape their duty to comply with nationally uniform federal limitations. An important reason for Congress' adoption of nationally applicable federal effluent limitations was to prevent individual states from attracting industry by adopting permissive water quality standards. See, e. g., Leg. Hist., at 156, 263, 574-575. Surely Congress never intended those federal limitations to be relaxed because a state adopted water quality standards and waste load allocations requiring more stringent pollution controls. See Leg. Hist., at 1461, 1468. Indeed, § 301(b)(1) provides that BPT-attainable effluent limitations "and . . . any more stringent limitation . . . established pursuant to State law or regulations" must be achieved by July 1, 1977.
Thus, we hold that the existence of more stringent state limitations is not one of the "factors" to be considered in determining whether an individual point source is entitled to a variance from a limitation based on BPT. This makes it unnecessary to consider EPA's alternative argument that there presently exists technology capable of achieving both the TSS and the sulphate limitations. See note 20, supra.
U. S. Steel challenges the limitations based on blast-furnace recycling on the additional ground that it cannot construct and place into operation a recycling system by July 1, 1977.
This conclusion is further supported by Congress' intent that BPT be determined on a nationwide basis, with substantially the same technology-based effluent limitations applicable to all similar point sources. Temporal feasibility of BPT installation is not included in the § 304(b) factors and should not be a ground for a variance. Consideration of that factor would emasculate the mandatory nature of the July 1, 1977 compliance deadline. See Bethlehem Steel Corp. v. Train, 544 F.2d 657 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 97 S.Ct. 1666, 51 L.Ed.2d 369 (1977). Also, as the Third Circuit noted in Bethlehem Steel, Congress considered and rejected a provision of the House bill,
(b) Interim Limitations
Sustaining EPA's conclusions that recycling is BPT and that Gary Works is not entitled to a variance from the limitations based on BPT, does not, however, end our inquiry. U. S. Steel also challenges EPA's § 304(b)(1)(A) calculation of "the degree of effluent reduction attainable through the application of [BPT]" at Gary Works, reflected in the interim TSS limitations. EPA calculated those limits by estimating the flow of water in the recycling system, the TSS concentration in the recycling flow, and the volume of water discharged from the system, or blowdown.
U. S. Steel does not question EPA's engineering analysis of the water flows or TSS concentration levels in the proposed recycling system. The company's argument is that EPA's use of a daily iron-production figure of 13,500 tons for outfall # 017 was improper. Both parties agree that the entire Gary Works produces an average of 20,000 tons of iron each day. About 6,500 tons of this total is usually cast by one blast furnace, number 13, which is a new furnace with its own recycling system that does not discharge through outfall # 017. Only the older furnaces, numbers 1-12, discharge through that outfall. The evidence also establishes that these older furnaces have produced up to 16,700 tons of iron in one day, and that furnace 13 has produced at least up to 8,700 tons in one day. The capacity of furnaces 1-12 is 19,971 tons per day; only eight of them need to be in operation for the group to cast 13,500 tons. U. S. Steel's memorandum prepared pursuant to the Regional Administrator's Order of Remand acknowledged that "some" of furnaces 1-12 are not operating at the present time.
Our review of the record persuades us that substantial evidence supports EPA's use of 13,500 tons as the average daily iron-production figure for the blast furnaces served by outfall # 017. U.S. Steel does not contend that this is not the normal production figure. Rather, it argues that, if furnace 13 were out of service or unable to produce at capacity for some reason, the production slack might be taken up by furnaces 1-12, resulting in higher water and TSS discharges from outfall # 017. The company argues, in effect, that the permit should be based, not an actual production, but on the capacity of furnaces 1-12, because one day they might be required to produce up to that figure. We reject this claim. If special circumstances, such as relining or repair, require U.S. Steel to shut down furnace 13, a modification of the permit can be sought.
U.S. Steel argues in its reply brief that EPA "completely failed to determine limitations for other contaminants"
(c) Final Limitations
The interim limitations for TSS discharges from outfall # 017 are 1,688 pounds daily average and 2,532 pounds daily maximum. The permit's final limitations require U.S. Steel to reduce its TSS discharges to 500 pounds daily average and 750 pounds daily maximum by July 1, 1979. The Regional Administrator found that these limits can be achieved by installing a system which treats the blowdown from the recycling system,
(3) Cooling-Water Intake Structures
The permit also requires U.S. Steel to conduct an intake monitoring program, as part of a study of the environmental impact of the cooling-water intakes for Gary Works, and to submit a proposal for meeting the § 316(b) requirement that
U.S. Steel objects to this condition, arguing that this requirement may not be applied to it because Congress only intended that steam-electric generating plants be required to comply with § 316(b), and that § 402(a)(1) does not allow EPA to condition NPDES permits upon compliance with § 316(b).
We reject these arguments. First, § 316(b) applies on its face to all technology-based effluent limitations "applicable to a point source." U.S. Steel asks us to rely on an isolated remark in the legislative history to reject the plain meaning of the statute.
U.S. Steel's argument that, even if applicable, the permit provision is unreasonable must also be rejected. Not even a "rough cost-benefit analysis" is necessary as a basis for the requirement that the company conduct a study of the impact of the present cooling-water intake structures on aquatic life in Lake Michigan. Such a study, intended to assist EPA in developing § 316(b) effluent limitations, is well within the agency's § 308 authority.
C. Monitoring Requirements
U.S. Steel has two basic complaints regarding the monitoring required by the permit: it is to be done too often and at too many places.
The initial monitoring requirements contained in the permit correspond closely to U.S. Steel's present monitoring practices, as required by the Indiana Stream Pollution Control Board.
Section 308 of the Act grants the Administrator broad authority to require NPDES permittees to monitor "at such locations [and] at such intervals" as he shall prescribe, "[w]henever [it is] required to carry out the objective of [the Act]." Similarly, § 402 vests him with authority to "prescribe conditions for [NPDES] permits . . . including conditions on data and information collection . . . ." We conclude that the monitoring requirements set forth in the permit are within this broad authority.
EPA considered four factors in determining the monitoring requirements, and set the requirements separately for each outfall. These factors were: the nature of the discharges and their impact on the receiving stream; the variability of the discharges; the volume of water discharged; and the present monitoring practices
The monitoring requirements—similar to or less stringent than those imposed in the approximately 50 other steel-plant permits issued in Region Five—will not work an unjustified economic hardship on U.S. Steel. The chief difference between U.S. Steel's present monitoring practices and the initial requirements is that compliance at nine of the outfalls will be based on a 24-hour composite sample rather than the 8-hour composite sample presently prepared. The use of the 24-hour composite sample is extended to all outfalls by the final monitoring requirements. These changes will more than triple the number of samples taken. The use of a 24-hour composite sample will doubtless be more expensive than present monitoring practices, but it will present a more complete picture of the discharges from the Gary Works, reflecting fluctuations over the course of an entire day of production. At the outfalls monitored on a daily basis, it will allow an almost continuous check on the performance of the treatment facilities at Gary Works.
By comparison, U.S. Steel's permit proposals call for monitoring only once a week, even at the seven outfalls now sampled five times in eight days, and would replace the monitoring for several pollutants now conducted at each outfall with monitoring at the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge, four-and-one-half miles downstream. Monitoring at each outfall enables the permittee and EPA to pinpoint the source of any discharges that exceed the plant-wide limitations on particular pollutants. Furthermore, the U.S. Steel proposal would, in effect, allow it to use the four-and-one-half mile stretch of the river as an extended treatment facility, something hardly contemplated by either the Indiana water quality standards or the FWPCA.
We cannot say that EPA exceeded its authority or acted unreasonably when it determined that regular and frequent monitoring at each outfall is necessary to insure prompt detection and rectification of permit violations. Therefore, we affirm the initial and final monitoring requirements set forth in the permit.
D. Deep Well
The permit imposes effluent limitations and study and monitoring requirements on U.S. Steel's discharges of acid wastes into a deep well.
The statute authorizes EPA to regulate the disposal of pollutants into deep wells, at least when the regulation is undertaken in conjunction with limitations on the permittee's discharges into surface waters. Section 402(a)(1) provides that the EPA's permit program "shall be subject to the same terms, conditions, and requirements as apply to a state permit program." And EPA approval of a state's permit program, governing "discharges into navigable waters," is conditional upon EPA's conclusion that the state program includes "adequate authority . . . [t]o issue permits which . . . control the disposal of pollutants into wells." Section 402(b)(1)(D). Thus EPA's administration of an interim NPDES permit program concerning surface discharges includes the authority to control disposals into wells.
The general provisions and definitions of the FWPCA support this view of EPA's authority. Section 402(a)(1) empowers the Administrator to "issue a permit for the discharge of any pollutant, or combination of pollutants," provided certain conditions are met. "Pollutant" is defined in § 502 of the Act to include "chemical wastes . . discharged into water." Section 502(6). One exception to the definition of "pollutant," § 502(6)(B), provides that
Applying the canon expressio unius est exclusio alterius to the quoted language, we conclude that the listed materials are "pollutants" when injected into wells under any other circumstances. U.S. Steel does not deny that its acid discharges into the deep well are "chemical wastes" within § 502(6). Therefore, their discharge into the deep well may properly be regulated by the permit-granting authorities pursuant to § 402(a)(3) and (b).
The legislative history also supports our construction of the statute. Exhibit 1, accompanying Senator Muskie's report of the conference committee on S. 2770 (the Act),
During the House debate on the report of its conference committee, Representative Kemp stated that because
Similarly, the report on the House version of the Act notes its committee's intent that
Finally, the Senate Report which accompanied S. 2770 notes that EPA is to prepare "guidelines for disposal of material in deep wells," Leg. Hist., at 1471, and explains that, while federally imposed standards for ground waters are not contemplated, state regulation under § 402 is required "to protect ground waters and eliminate the use of deep well disposal as an uncontrolled alternative to toxic and pollution control."
E. Schedules of Compliance
In addition to the specific discharge limitations discussed above, the permit includes schedules of compliance designed to insure that the effluent limitations required by the permit are achieved in a timely fashion.
U.S. Steel does not challenge EPA's authority to set reasonable schedules of compliance under these statutory provisions. Instead, the company argues that the schedules set in the permit are arbitrary, that EPA's delay in promulgating nationally applicable effluent guidelines entitles it to an extension of the July 1, 1977 deadline for achieving BPT-based effluent limitations, and that the statute is satisfied if the permittee, before the deadline, initiates a program which will eventually achieve compliance with the limitations. We reject these arguments, and substantially approve the schedules of compliance as they are set forth in the permit under review.
U.S. Steel points out that several of the compliance dates had already passed by the time the permit was issued. We do not take these clearly unfair permit conditions as lightly as it appears the agency itself does. Regardless of whether they were due to a mere "quirk of administrative procedure," as EPA asserts, the inclusion of dates which have already passed and therefore cannot be complied with is inexcusable. Fortunately, there was no prejudice to U.S. Steel from these inclusions, because EPA itself recognized that no enforcement action could be brought for non-compliance with those dates without violating due process. And, as the agency observes, § 309(a)(3) gives the Administrator discretion to issue a compliance order in lieu of bringing a civil action.
U.S. Steel's second argument, that EPA's delay entitles it to an extension, must be rejected in view of the mandatory nature of the deadlines contained in § 301(b). As we observed in our discussion of the company's claim that temporal infeasibility made recycling not "currently available" to it, the congressionally imposed deadline of July 1, 1977 is a firm one.
Under the FWPCA, EPA was required to promulgate § 304 guidelines for various industries by October 18, 1973. Sections 304(b)(1)(A) and 306. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Train, supra, 510 F.2d at 704-705. The agency did not promulgate guidelines for the iron and steel industry, however, until compelled to do so by that decision. 39 Fed.Reg. 24114 (June 28, 1974). U.S. Steel argues that this delay in the statutory timetable either nullifies the July 1, 1977 deadline or entitles it to an extension of the time for compliance. We do not believe Congress intended such a result. U.S. Steel's permit was first issued in October 1974, well before the January 1, 1975 deadline apparently contemplated by Congress for the issuance of permits. See § 402(k); see also Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Train, supra, 510 F.2d at 706-710. Although EPA's guidelines were then in effect, BPT and the resulting effluent limitations would have been determined in the permit proceeding itself if they had not yet been promulgated. Id. at 709. Thus, it appears that the obligations imposed on an individual discharger by the
U.S. Steel does not argue that the remand of the iron and steel guidelines and the resulting remand of this permit proceeding themselves justify an extension. As we have already held with respect to recycling as BPT, U.S. Steel must litigate on its own time. Cf. Train v. Natural Resources Defense Council, supra, 421 U.S. at 92, 95 S.Ct. 1470.
U.S. Steel's final argument is that the statute itself allows the July 1, 1977 deadline to be met simply by beginning action on a schedule of compliance which will eventually result in achieving the limitations based on BPT or state regulations. We reject this contorted reading of the statute. We recognize that the definition of "effluent limitation" includes "schedules of compliance," § 502(11), which are themselves defined as "schedules . . . of actions or operations leading to compliance" with limitations imposed under the Act. Section 502(17). It is clear to us, however, that § 301(b)(1) requires point sources to achieve the effluent limitations based on BPT or state law, not merely to be in the process of achieving them, by July 1, 1977. See Bethlehem Steel Corp. v. Train, supra, 544 F.2d at 662.
Therefore we uphold the schedules of compliance set forth in the permit. We also deny U.S. Steel's recently filed motion for a stay pending appeal of the schedule of compliance contained in the permit for the installation of blast-furnace recycling at outfall # 017.
The District Court's decision in No. 76-1425 is Affirmed. In No. 76-1616 the Petition for Review is Denied.
The remaining 12 outfalls discharge "noncontact cooling water," which is defined in the Regulations, 40 C.F.R. § 401.11(n), as:
Daily Average Daily Maximum
(In lbs.) (In lbs.)Ammonia 2,150 4,300 Cyanide 109.5 219 Phenol 25.76 51.52 Chloride 40,023 80,046 Fluoride 2,778 5,556 Sulphate 95,660 191,320
These limitations are applied on a net basis.
Bethlehem Steel Corp. v. EPA, 538 F.2d 513 (2d Cir. 1976), is not contrary. The court there simply held that not all "water quality standards" are "effluent limitations," and that it therefore lacked jurisdiction under § 509 of the Act to review EPA's approval of New York State's revised water quality standards. Nothing in that opinion implies that water quality standards cannot become effluent limitations, once they are applied to an individual discharger by inclusion in an NPDES permit.
In its brief, U.S. Steel argues that there is no jurisdiction under FWPCA to regulate deep wells that do not discharge into navigable waters and points to "unrefuted testimony at the adjudicatory hearing" that its deep well injection "is into ground waters which do not connect into or otherwise affect surface waters." EPA, however, was not bound by this testimony and could have properly concluded that too little is known about the effects of discharges into ground waters to justify allowing increases in them. As to the company's legal argument, see the analysis of the statute and the legislative history in the text, infra.
The significance of this "exception" becomes clear when one realizes that 99 percent of all domestic waste-injection wells are oil industry wells. Leg. Hist., at 590. Representative Roberts explained his opposition to the amendment by pointing out that "we have more stringent regulations now on the oil industry than we could ever impose through this legislation." Thus, although the steel companies "come under the regulations" as Representative Aspin noted, the oil industry is "already . . . regulated in a similar fashion . . . ." Leg. Hist., at 593. The House debate on the amendment, therefore, confirms our conclusion that the Act contemplates state and federal restrictions on waste disposals into wells.