Administrative Law Keyed to Lawson
Puerto Rico Sun Oil Co. v. United States EPA
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The Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into protected waters unless a discharge permit has been secured from the EPA, with the additional consent of the state in which the discharge will occur. Puerto Rico is considered a “state” within the Act, and its local agency is the Environmental Quality Board (EQB). The Act allowed states to impose more stringent laws than the federal law requires, which then become incorporated into the federal permit. Puerto Rico Sun Oil Company (Company) held a discharge permit for its oil refinery in Puerto Rico, and submitted a renewal request to the EPA. The EPA forwarded it to EQB with a 60-day deadline. The EQB released a tentative certification that excluded the “mixing zone” in the company’s earlier permit. Meanwhile, EQB was working on revised mixing zone regulations. Four days after promulgating its final mixing zone regulation, it issued the final certification in this case, sans the mixing zone provision. The EPA then rushed to issue a final permit before EQB’s certification could be revised, even though both the Company and EQB made it clear that reconsideration was under way. The Company would have been unable to operate its refinery if the permit limitations were applied, without a mixing zone analysis.
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