Original jurisdiction in case of St. Joe Minerals Corporation v. Maurice K. Goddard, as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources and Chairman of the Environmental Quality Board, the Department of Environmental Resources and the Environmental Quality Board.
John McN. Cramer, with him Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for plaintiff.
Marvin A. Fein, Special Assistant Attorney General, for defendants.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Crumlish, Jr., did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 14 Pa. Commw. Page 625]
St. Joe Minerals Corporation (St. Joe) filed, on January 28, 1974, a complaint in equity challenging the validity of air quality standards promulgated in the form of regulations by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) pursuant to the Air Pollution Control Act, Act of January 8, 1960, P.L. (1959) 2119, § 5, as amended, 35 P.S. § 4005(2) (Supp. 1974-1975).
In its complaint, St. Joe asserts that the regulations in question are arbitrary and capricious as applied to its zinc smelter operations in Potter Township; their promulgation and enforcement deny St. Joe of "due process of law"; are not within the "police power"; and constitute an unjustified burden on interstate commerce violative of the United States Constitution. The relief sought is enjoining the defendants from enforcing the regulations against plaintiff's zinc smelter operations.
By way of preliminary objections the defendants, Department of Environmental Resources (DER),*fn1 has
[ 14 Pa. Commw. Page 626]
raised, among other issues, that of whether equity has jurisdiction in this case. DER contends that equity is without jurisdiction because St. Joe has an adequate remedy at law which it is presently pursuing.
This controversy has its origin in the promulgation of air quality standards by EQB on March 4, 1972;*fn2 said standards became effective on March 19, 1972. On September 19, 1972, St. Joe filed a petition for a variance from these standards, and requested that they be excused from compliance therewith until July 31, 1977. DER took St. Joe's variance request under advisement, and prior to DER's formally acting thereon, St. Joe filed the complaint in the instant case on January 28, 1974.
Subsequent to the filing of St. Joe's complaint, DER, on February 6, 1974, denied St. Joe's request for a variance until 1977, instead it granted a variance until December 31, 1975. Thereafter, St. Joe took a timely appeal from DER's denial to the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), which appeal is currently pending. The issues raised by the appeal to the EHB and the complaint in this case are similar. Both proceedings challenge the validity of the EOB regulations on constitutional and other grounds as they pertain to St. Joe.
Prior to the filing of St. Joe's petition for a variance with DER and continuing throughout this period, parallel proceedings were initiated in the Federal system. With regard to those proceedings, suffice it to say that on March 19, 1974, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rendered a decision in which he ...