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Court affirms permit to build new wastewater treatment plant

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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s decision to issue a permit to the city of Hobart to operate a new wastewater treatment plant was not arbitrary, capricious or otherwise contrary to law, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In City of Gary and Gary Sanitation District v. Indiana Department of Environmental Management and City of Hobart, No. 49A02-1106-MI-553, the city of Gary, which has an agreement with Hobart to treat some of its wastewater, challenged the decision to allow Hobart to build a new treatment plant. The new plant would shut down an aging facility in Hobart and discontinue the need for Gary to handle the wastewater. In 2004, IDEM issued the permit allowing the construction of the plant along the Deep River, a tributary to Lake Michigan. The permit set mercury limits of 3.2 parts per trillion and a monthly average of 1.9 ppt per day, which are less than the limits currently allowed at the Gary facility.

Gary asked for administrative review of the permit, which the Indiana Office of Environmental Adjudication, and later the trial court, upheld.

At issue is the interpretation of 327 Indiana Administrative Code 5-2-11.7(a)(2). Gary read the code to mean that subsections (a),(b) and (c) must be read together; but IDEM, the OEA, and the trial court found that only (a) and (b) should be read together and (c) provides a separate way to meet regulation requirements. When IDEM issued the permit, it only applied subsections (a) and (b). The appellate court found IDEM’s interpretation is consistent with the plain language of the regulation, as clauses (a) and (b) are connected by “and;” there is no conjunctive language connecting those clauses with (c).

In addition, the antidegradation factors cited in (c) don’t apply to Hobart’s permit mercury discharges, noted Judge Paul Mathias. The judges also rejected Gary’s argument that issuing the permit will cause significant lowering of water quality in violation of 327 Ind. Admin. Code 5-2-11.3(a) and 5-2-11.7(a)(2).

“We conclude that IDEM’s decision to issue the Hobart Permit was neither arbitrary nor capricious, and that the decision was in accordance with the law and supported by substantial evidence,” Mathias wrote. “And, although the Hobart Permit allows a new source for discharge of mercury, because Hobart will be able to close its non-compliant Nob Hill Plant and treat its wastewater more effectively than it is currently treated by Gary’s facility, the Hobart Permit will result in an overall environmental benefit to and will not cause a significant lowering of water quality in Lake Michigan and its tributary, the Deep River.”

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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