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UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/02/82)

decided: March 2, 1982.

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Environmental Hearing Board in the case of In the Matter of: United States Steel Corporation v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, EHB Docket No. 79-154-B.

COUNSEL

John McN. Cramer, with him Robert W. Thomson and Stephen K. Todd, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for petitioner.

Maxine Woelfling, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr., Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Macphail

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 104]

United States Steel Corporation (Petitioner) appeals from an adjudication and order of the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) dismissing Petitioner's appeal from an order of the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) adopting amendments to regulations establishing water quality standards for Commonwealth waters. We affirm.

By order dated August 21, 1979, the EQB adopted amendments*fn1 to 25 Pa. Code Chapters 93, 95 and 97 relating to water quality standards, wastewater treatment requirements and industrial wastes, respectively. The order provided an effective date of October 8, 1979. 9 Pa. B. 3051 (1979). On October 9, 1979 Petitioner filed an appeal with the EHB challenging the amendments as being arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable for eight stated reasons.*fn2 The Department of Environmental Resources (DER) subsequently filed a motion to quash on the ground that the EHB lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The EHB granted the motion, concluding that it has no jurisdiction to review an action of the EQB and that the promulgation of regulations by an administrative agency is not an appealable event.

Petitioner presents three arguments in its appeal to the Court: 1) that an order issued by the EQB is an order of DER subject to the EHB's jurisdiction; 2) that an order adopting regulations by the EQB is a reviewable

[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 105]

    event; and 3) that the refusal of the EHB to review the EQB action deprives Petitioner of an adequate remedy at law. Section 1921-A(a) of The Administrative Code of 1929 (Code), Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 177, as amended, 71 P.S. § 510-21(a) provides that:

The Environmental Hearing Board shall have the power and its duties shall be to hold hearings and issue adjudications under the provisions of . . . the 'Administrative Agency Law,' on any order, permit, license or decision of the Department of Environmental Resources. (Emphasis added.)

Thus, for the EHB to have jurisdiction over a direct appeal from the order of the EQB adopting amendments to DER regulations, that order must constitute an order of DER. If the EQB's order is not an order of DER, then the EHB would lack the power to issue an adjudication thereon.

This Court has previously noted that environmental laws in Pennsylvania are now administratively regulated by three separate and distinct regulatory bodies. East Pennsboro Township Authority v. Department of Environmental Resources, 18 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 58, 334 A.2d 798 (1975). The EQB was established as a departmental administrative board*fn3 and has as its primary power and duty the formulation, adoption and promulgation of rules and regulations which, when made, become the rules and regulations of DER. Section 1920-A of the Code, 71 P.S. § 510-20. Once the EQB establishes the ...


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