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E.O.R. Energy L.L.C. v. Messina

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

September 19, 2017

E.O.R. ENERGY L.L.C., and AET ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
ALEC MESSINA, as Director of Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and ILLINOIS ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Defendants.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss Second Amended Complaint (d/e 45) filed by Defendants Alec Messina, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the IEPA. Because the suit is barred by the Eleventh Amendment and collateral estoppel, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs E.O.R. Energy, LLC (EOR) and AET Environmental, Inc. (AET) purport to bring this cause of action pursuant to the citizen suit provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. See 42 U.S.C. § 6972; 42 U.S.C. § 300j-8. Therefore, a brief description of the two Acts is necessary.

         The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq., “is a comprehensive environmental statute that governs the treatment, storage, and disposal of solid and hazardous waste.” Meghrig v. KFC W., Inc., 516 U.S. 479, 483 (1996). The primary purpose of the Act is to reduce the hazardous waste that is generated and ensure that the hazardous waste is properly treated, stored, and disposed. Id. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act allows each state to promulgate its own hazardous waste program. 42 U.S.C. § 6926(b). If the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) approves the state's program, the state's standards supersede the federal regulations. AM Int'l, Inc. v. Datacard Corp., 106 F.3d 1342, 1350 (7th Cir. 1997).

         Congress enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. § 300f et seq., “with the basic goal of protecting the purity of the drinking water provided by the nation's public water systems.” United States v. Mass. Res. Auth., 256 F.3d 36, 38 (1st Cir. 2001). Part C of the Safe Drinking Water Act governs the protection of underground sources of drinking water. See 42 U.S.C. § 300h; Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. U.S. E.P.A., 824 F.2d 1258, 1269 (1st Cir. 1987) (noting that, in Part C, “Congress sought to protect underground sources of drinking water from what are termed ‘underground injections'”).

         Section 300h(a)(1) of the Safe Drinking Water Act directs the Administrator of the USEPA to promulgate regulations setting forth the minimum requirements for state underground injection control (UIC) programs. A state assumes primary enforcement of a UIC program by enacting its own program and obtaining approval from the USEPA. See 42 U.S.C. § 300h-1.

         The USEPA approved Illinois' program for regulating underground injection wells. 49 Fed. Reg. 20138-01, 20204 (May 11, 1984); see also 40 C.F.R. § 147.700 (stating that the UIC program of Class I, III, IV and V wells in Illinois-with the exception of those on Indian lands-is the program administered by the IEPA and approved by the USEPA); 40 C.F.R. § 147.701 (same re: Class II wells). Therefore, Illinois' standards regarding underground injection wells operate in lieu of the otherwise applicable federal programs. See 42 U.S.C. § 6926(b); 42 U.S.C. § 300h-1. Illinois' state program classifies Class I and Class II wells as follows:

a) Class I injection wells. A Class I injection well is any of the following:
1) A Class I hazardous waste injection well that is used by a generator of hazardous waste or an owner or operator of a hazardous waste management facility to inject hazardous waste beneath the lowermost formation containing an underground source of drinking water within 402 meters (one-quarter mile) of the well bore.
2) An industrial or municipal disposal well that injects fluids beneath the lowermost formation containing an underground source of drinking water within 402 meters (one-quarter mile) of the well bore.
3) A radioactive waste disposal well that injects fluids below the lowermost formation containing an underground source of drinking water within 402 meters (one-quarter mile) of the well bore.
b) Class II injection wells. A Class II injection well is one that injects any of the following types of fluids:
1) Fluids that are brought to the surface in connection with conventional oil or natural gas production and which may be commingled with wastewaters from gas plants that are an integral part of production operations, unless those waters are classified as a hazardous waste at the time of injection; 2) Fluids that are used for enhanced recovery of oil or natural gas; and 3) Fluids that ...

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