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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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