E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company v. Train

PETITIONER: E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company et al.
RESPONDENT: Russell E. Train, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, et al.
LOCATION: Environmental Protection Agency

DOCKET NO.: 75-978
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 430 US 112 (1977)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1976
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1977
GRANTED: Apr 19, 1976

Daniel M. Friedman - for Russell E. Train, etc., and others
Robert C. Barnard - E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co. and others

Facts of the case

In 1972, Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Act), which gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the power to enact regulations to limit the amount of pollution that manufacturing plants could discharge. In exercising that power, the Administrator of the EPA created groups made up of similar plants and prescribed a specific pollution limitation to each of the different groups. These regulations granted existing plants some leeway for complying with the prescribed pollution limit. Petitioners, eight inorganic chemical manufacturing plants, sued the EPA in district court and alleged that it had overstepped its statutory authority by promulgating regulations organized by categories, instead of issuing specific pollution limits for each plant. Petitioners also argued that the EPA regulations for plants that had not yet been built violated the provisions of the Act because they did not allow for any variance from the prescribed limit. The district court found that the Act gave appellate courts jurisdiction to review pollution regulations and removed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The appellate court rejected petitioners’ arguments regarding the categorical limits but held that the EPA must provide new plants the same variance allowances with which the existing plants were provided.


(1) Can the EPA issue industry-wide regulations that categorically limit the amount of pollutants that existing manufacturing plants can discharge?

(2) Does the Court of Appeals have jurisdiction to review the EPA regulations that apply to existing plants?

(3) Can the EPA subject newly constructed manufacturing plants to exacting pollution standards that do not allow for any variance from the prescribed limit?

Media for E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company v. Train

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1976 in E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company v. Train

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 23, 1977 in E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company v. Train

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the Court in 75-978, Du Pont against Train and the related cases will be announced by Mr. Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

These cases arise under the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and come here by way of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

The petitioners are eight chemical companies that filed actions challenging regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency which said uniform limits on the discharge of pollutants by categories or classes of plants.

Petitioners contend that the EPA does not have the authority to issue a binding regulation, but rather, only has the authority to issue flexible guidelines for use in considering the individual characteristics of each plant when a permanent is issued for that plant.

We now hold that the EPA has the power it has claimed.

Because of the way the statute structures judicial review, our holding has the effect of allowing direct review of these EPA regulations in the United States Court of Appeals.

The First Circuit correctly analyzed these issues and we affirm that part of its decision.

In another of its decision, that Court held that EPA's standard for plants which will be built in the future, must contain a variance provision.

We hold that Congress did not contemplate such variances for new plants and we therefore, unanimously reverse this part of the Fourth Circuit's decision.

Mr .Justice Powell took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stevens.