Steel Company v. Citizens For A Better Environment

523 U.S. 83 (1998)


Citizens (P) sued Steel Company (D) for past violations of EPCRA. EPCRA established a framework of state, regional and local agencies designed to inform the public about the presence of hazardous and toxic chemicals and to provide for emergency response in the event of a health-threatening release. Under the EPCRA, companies were required to file annual emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms and toxic chemical release forms. The EPCRA has many enforcement provisions, but this suit involved the citizen suit provision section 11046(a)(1) which authorized civil penalties as well as injunctive relief under section 11046(c). Prior to private suit, P must give 60 days notice to the EPA, the State, and the alleged violator. P filed notice to the proper authorities alleging that D had not filed any of the required EPCRA reports since the Acts inception. The sixty-day waiting period expired, and the EPA decided not to sue D, so P filed suit. D filed rule 12(b)(1) and (6) motions contending that because it filings were up to date when the complaint was filed, the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit for a present violation and the EPCRA did not allow suits for purely historical violations. P appealed.