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REHNQUIST, C. J., dissenting

496 U. S.

ment of rates in accordance with that process is the only discernible right accruing to anyone under $ 1396a(a)(13)(A). But as this case illustrates, Medicaid providers bring § 1983 actions to avoid the process rather than to seek its implementation. The Court approves such challenges despite the fact that a plaintiff's success in such a suit results in the displacement of rates created in accordance with the statutory process by rates established pursuant to court order. To support its decision, the Court looks beyond the unambiguous terms of the statute and relies on policy considerations purportedly derived from legislative history and superseded versions of the statute. See ante, at 515-520.

The Court concludes, ante, at 519, that the contrary position equates with the proposition that the States are not obligated to adopt reasonable rates. Indeed, the theme of much of the Court's argument is that without judicial enforceability, the States cannot be trusted to implement § 1396a(a)(13) (A)'s command of creating rate systems that are reasonable and adequate. The Court states at one point that “[i]t would make little sense for Congress to require a State to make findings without requiring those findings to be correct. . . We decline to adopt an interpretation of the Boren Amendment that would render it a dead letter.” Ante, at 514.

The interpretation to which the Court refers, however, would scarcely render the Boren Amendment a “dead letter.” It is, instead, the Court's own reading that nullifies the “letter” of the amendment. Apart from its displacement of the statutory ratesetting process noted previously, the Court's suggestion that the States would deliberately disregard the requirements of the statute ignores the Secretary's oversight incorporated into the statute and does less than justice to the States. The Court itself recognizes that the basic purpose of the Boren Amendment was to allow the States more latitude in establishing Medicaid reimbursement rates. In light of that fact, the Court's interpretation takes far more liberties


REHNQUIST, C. J., dissenting

with the statutory language than does the position advanced by petitioners. I would reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.


496 U. S.




No. 89–369. Argued March 21, 1990– Decided June 14, 1990 The Clean Air Act was amended in 1970 to deal with a perceived national

air-pollution emergency. The amendments required that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgate national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) within 30 days and that each State thereafter submit a state implementation plan (SIP) within nine months. Section 110(a)(2) of the Act required the Administrator to approve a SIP within four months of its submission if the SIP met various substantive requirements. Section 110(a)(3) authorizes a State to propose a SIP revision and requires the Administrator to approve that revision if he determines, among other things, that it “meets the requirements of [§ 110(a)(2)].” In 1980, EPA approved Massachusetts' proposed SIP governing certain emissions from automobile-painting operations. The SIP permitted petitioner General Motors Corporation (GMC), whose automobile plant's painting operation is a source of ozone, to meet emissions limits in stages, but required full compliance by December 31, 1985. In June 1985, GMC sought an extension of that deadline until summer 1987. Massachusetts approved the revision and submitted it to EPA on the day before the existing SIP's deadline, but EPA did not reject it until September 1988. In the meantime, EPA sent GMC a notice of violation of the existing SIP, and the Government filed an enforcement action in the District Court. In May 1988, the District Court entered summary judgment for GMC, holding that $ 110(a)(3) imposed a 4-month time limit on EPA review of a SIP revision, and that EPA was therefore barred from enforcing the existing SIP from the end of the 4-month period until it finally acted on the revision. Although agreeing that the Act imposed a 4-month deadline, the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the failure to meet that deadline did not pre

clude EPA from enforcing the existing SIP. Held:

1. EPA is not required to act on a proposed SIP revision within four months. Since $ 110(a)(2)'s 4-month requirement was enacted as one of a series of deadlines designed to assure quick implementation of pollution-control requirements, that section refers only to the action required on the original SIP and not to a revision. Moreover, in the absence of an express requirement that the Administrator process a proposed revision within four months, this Court is not free to read such a

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limitation into $ 110(a)(3). That section incorporates only the substantive, but not the procedural, requirements of $ 110(a)(2). Nor does $ 110(g) – which authorizes a State Governor, in certain circumstances, temporarily to suspend a SIP for which the State has submitted a proposed revision when the Administrator has not taken action “within the required four month period” – impose a 4-month limitation on EPA. That section does not require the Administrator to do anything, and its incorporation of the mistaken presupposition that some “four month period” is “required” does not impose a general requirement on EPA. Pp. 536–539.

2. Although subject to the Administrative Procedure Act's requirement that agencies conclude matters "within a reasonable time,” EPA is not barred from bringing suit to enforce an existing SIP if it unreasonably delays action on a proposed revision. This Court will not infer an enforcement bar in the absence of a specific provision in the Clean Air Act suggesting that Congress intended to create one. In fact, that Act plainly states that EPA may bring an enforcement action whenever a person is in violation of any “applicable implementation plan” requirement, $ 113(b)(2), and there is little doubt that the existing SIP remains the “applicable implementation plan" even after the State has submitted a proposed revision. See, e. g., Train v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 421 U. S. 60, 92. It is significant that Congress explicitly enacted an enforcement bar elsewhere in the Act, see $ 113(d)(10), but failed to do so in the section at issue, and that it provided other, less drastic, remedies when EPA delays action on a SIP revision, see $$ 304

(a)(2), 113(b). Pp. 539-542. 876 F. 2d 1060, affirmed. BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Theodore L. Garrett argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Sonya D. Winner, Harry J. Pearce, James C. Cubbin, and Patrick J. McCarroll.

Deputy Solicitor General Wallace argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Starr, Assistant Attorney General Stewart, Clifford M. Sloan, Martin W. Matzen, and David C. Shilton.*

*Roland T. Huson III and Ann C. Coco filed a brief for the Department of Environmental Quality of Louisiana as amicus curiae urging reversal.

A brief of amici curiae urging affirmance was filed for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts et al. by James M. Shannon, Attorney General of Massachusetts, and James R. Milkey, Assistant Attorney General, and by

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JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case concerns a Clean Air Act enforcement action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against petitioner General Motors Corporation (GMC). We are asked to decide whether the 4-month time limit on EPA review of an original state implementation plan (SIP) also applies to its review of a SIP revision, and whether, if EPA fails to complete its review of a SIP revision in a timely manner, EPA is prevented from enforcing an existing SIP.


What is known as the Clean Air Act, 77 Stat. 392, became law on December 17, 1963. Twenty years ago, Congress enacted the Clean Air Amendments of 1970, 84 Stat. 1676, a comprehensive national program that made the States and the Federal Government partners in the struggle against air pollution. The threats to human health were regarded as urgent, and the 1970 Amendments were designed to result in the expeditious establishment of programs to deal with the problem. The amendments specified a detailed timetable for

the Attorneys General for their respective States as follows: John K. Van de Kamp of California, Clarine Nardi Riddle of Connecticut, Jim Jones of Idaho, Neil F. Hartigan of Illinois, Robert T. Stephan of Kansas, Frank J. Kelley of Michigan, Hubert H. Humphrey III of Minnesota, Robert Abrams of New York, Lacy H. Thornburg of North Carolina, Jeffrey Amestoy of Vermont, Mary Sue Terry of Virginia, and Kenneth Eikenberry of Washington.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States by Robin S. Conrad; for Golden West Refining Co. et al. by Lawrence J. Straw, Jr., and Kenneth A. Manaster; for the Mid-America Legal Foundation by Martha A. Churchill and James T. Harrington; for the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association et al. by Francis S. Blake, Jerome C. Muys, Jr., William H. Crabtree, G. William Frick, and Henry V. Nickel; for the National Governors' Association et al. by Benna Ruth Solomon, Joyce Holmes Benjamin, and Beate Bloch; for the Service Station Dealers of America by Dimitri G. Daskalopoulos; and for the Washington Legal Foundation by Daniel J. Popeo, Paul D. Kamenar, Robert H. Lamb, and Robert S. Smith.

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