Adamo Wrecking Company v. United States

PETITIONER: Adamo Wrecking Company
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 76-911
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 434 US 275 (1978)
ARGUED: Oct 11, 1977
DECIDED: Jan 10, 1978

ADVOCATES:
Frank H. Easterbrook - for respondent, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court
Stanley M. Lipnick - for petitioner
Weitzenfeld -

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Adamo Wrecking Company v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 11, 1977 in Adamo Wrecking Company v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 10, 1978 in Adamo Wrecking Company v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 76-011, Adamo Wrecking Co. against the United States will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

In this case, the United States criminally prosecuted the petitioner, Adamo Wrecking Co. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for failure to comply with an emission standard which had been issued by the administrator under the Clean Air Act.

The District Court dismissed the indictment, concluding that the regulation was not an emission standard within the meaning of the term as used by Congress in the Act.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, that court reversed, holding that another provision of the Act barred the petitioner from raising this issue because the validity of the regulation had not been earlier challenged in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit within 30 days of its promulgation.

We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

In this extremely complex Act, Congress has provided significantly different review mechanisms for different types of regulations.

Because of these different consequences, we do not believe that Congress intended the agency's mere designation of a regulation as an emission standard to be conclusive as to its character is to that affect.

It follows that District Court must determine whether a regulation is on its face an emission standard within the meaning of the Act and thus appropriately subject to the preclusive review provisions of Section 307.

We, therefore, hold that the government is required to prove that the regulation allegedly violated by petitioner was indeed an emission standard.

The District Court in our opinion properly concluded that this regulation, dictating particular work practices to be followed in the demolition of buildings was not such a standard.

The language and history of the Act demonstrate that Congress intended emission standards to be quantitative limitations on emissions of particular pollutants.

The District Court's judgment of dismissing the indictment was therefore proper and the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.

While joining the opinion of the Court, Mr. Justice Powell has filed a separate concurrence.

Mr. Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting opinion in which he's joined by Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Blackmun.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a separate dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Rehnquist.