Friends of the Earth v. United States Environmental Protection Agency: A Battle for the Proper Forum to Protect the Nation's "Forgotten River"

Manchik, Estie
August 2004
Ecology Law Quarterly;2004, Vol. 31 Issue 3, p531
Academic Journal
Friends of the Earth v. Environmental Protection Agency explores two important jurisdictional questions that help clarify the Clean Water Act's Judicial Review Provision. The case was brought as a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator's approval and establishment of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) standards, which are used to help control water pollution levels, for the Anacostia River. The central issue for the District of Columbia Circuit Court was whether appellate courts have original jurisdiction to hear such a case. First, the court held that there is original appellate jurisdiction only for those actions by the EPA Administrator that are specifically enumerated in the CWA's Judicial Review Provision. As a consequence, the court held that federal circuit courts may not directly review the Administrator's acts of establishing or approving TMDLs. This Note argues that the holding is proper because it maintains the plain language interpretation of the statute, promotes judicial economy, and provides uniformity among the circuit courts on this issue. However, this Note concludes that Congress should amend the Judicial Review Provision to provide for direct circuit court review of the EPA Administrator's establishment or approval of TMDLs. This amendment would uphold the goals Congress intended to achieve with the Judicial Review Provision, in addition to upholding the broader policy goals of the CWA and the court system in general.


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