430 U.S. 977 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

MINNESOTA v. ALEXANDER , 430 U.S. 977 (1977)

430 U.S. 977

Clifford L. ALEXANDER, Secretary of the Army, et al
No. 76-1030

Supreme Court of the United States

April 25, 1977

The appeal is dismissed for want of jurisdiction. Treating the papers whereon the appeal was taken as a petition for a writ of certiorari, certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice STEVENS, with whom Mr. Justice MARSHALL and Mr. Justice REHNQUIST join, dissenting.

In this case, the Court of Appeals held that dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers is exempt from state water-pollution regulations. 543 F.2d 1198 (C.A. [Footnote 8] 1976). The Court today refuses to review this ruling despite the fact that the case is here on appeal, and may well be within our mandatory jurisdiction. [Footnote 1] The case deserves plenary review

Page 430 U.S. 977 , 978

because of its practical importance and because of the likelihood that error has been committed.

The general rule, of course, is that federal agencies are immune from state regulation, but this immunity may be waived by Congress. See EPA v. California ex rel. State Water Resources Control Board, 426 U.S. 200, 96 S. Ct. 2022. It appears that Congress has made such a waiver in 313 of the 1972 Amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1323. Section 313 provides, in no uncertain terms, that:

    "Each department, agency or instrumentality of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government . . . shall comply with Federal, State, interstate, and local requirements . . . ."

Congress was cautious indeed in allowing exceptions, as shown by the remainder of 313. Federal agencies may be exempted only by the President himself, and only if he finds the exemption to be in the "paramount interest of the United States." Even then, the exemption lasts only one year unless renewed by the President, and he must report each exemption [430 U.S. 977 , 979]

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