HERE'S WHAT A FEDERAL APPELLATE JUDGE SAID RECENTLY:
UTILITY SOLID WASTE ACTIVITIES GROUP, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY AND CAROL M. BROWNER, ADMINISTRATOR, UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, RESPONDENTS
No. 99-1372, Consolidated with No. 99-1374
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
236 F.3d 749
October 13, 2000, Argued
January 30, 2001, Decided
DISPOSITION: Petitions for judicial review granted.
Angus Macbeth argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Christopher L. Bell, Patricia K. Casano, Douglas H. Green, John L. Moore, Jr. and Heather E. Gange.
Daniel M. Flores, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the briefs was Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General. Christopher S. Vaden, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, entered an appearance.
Before: WILLIAMS, RANDOLPH, and TATEL, Circuit Judges. Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge RANDOLPH.
Utility Solid Waste Activities Group and General Electric petition this court to vacate in part an alteration of the Environmental Protection Agency's rules regulating the use of porous substances contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls ("PCBs"). PCBs are outstanding insulators and do not burn easily--characteristics that make them useful in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment. PCBs are also carcinogenic and toxic, and may cause immune system suppression, liver damage, endocrine disruption in humans and animals and skin irritation. These dangers are compounded by the remarkable stability of PCB compounds, which bioaccumulate in fatty tissue and are readily absorbed through the skin and respiration, as well as through ingestion of animals exposed to PCBs.
In the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA"), Congress singled out these chemicals for special treatment. 15 U.S.C. § § 2601, 2605(e). The Act forbid the "manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce or use" of any PCB except in a "totally enclosed manner." 15 U.S.C. § 2605(e)(2)(A). The EPA Administrator had authority to waive the restriction by rule but only if it would not present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. 15 U.S.C. § 2605(e)(2)(B). We are told that by January 1, 1978, when these measures took effect, nearly all manufacturing of PCBs had ceased.
[. . .] [The judgment goes on to grant judicial review to a challenge by manufacturers to EPA's change in the regulations governing PCB contaminated building materials, finding that EPA was wrong to change the rules under the guise of a "technical correction" to the regulations. However, nothing in the judgment conflicts with its opening findings regarding the hazards of exposure to PCBs.]