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Law School Case Brief

Citizens against Refinery's Effects, Inc. v. United States Envtl. Prot. Agency - 643 F.2d 183 (4th Cir. 1981)


Where the record shows no evidence of arbitrary or capricious action involving technical matters, an agency determination must be upheld.


The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final ruling approving the Virginia State Implementation Plan (SIP) for reducing hydrocarbon pollutants. The plan requires the Virginia Highway Department to decrease usage of a certain type of asphalt, thereby reducing hydrocarbon pollution by more than enough to offset expected pollution from the Hampton Roads Energy Company's (HREC) proposed refinery. Petitioner Citizens Against the Refinery's Effects (CARE) appealed. 


Is EPA’s approval of the implementation plan for hydrocarbon emissions reduction arbitrary and capricious?




The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that the EPA's approval of a state implementation plan for the reduction of ozone emissions was valid. The court further stated  that the EPA's approval of the use of three highway districts as the area in which pollution reduction was to be measured was neither arbitrary, capricious, nor outside the Act. Congress intended that the states and the EPA have flexibility in the design and implementation of such plans and the fact that the state had been voluntarily reducing pollution by the same method did not effect the plan's validity because the voluntary plan did not guarantee a reduction in pollution.

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