Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Catawba County NC v. U.S. EPA

Jul 8: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Case No. 05-1064. The case is consolidate with 29 other cases. In these consolidated petitions, several states, counties, and industrial entities challenge the U.S. EPA's promulgation of area designations for the annual national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) applicable to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a category of air pollutants consisting of miniscule airborne particles known to present adverse health risks. The parties argue that EPA’s methodology for designating areas as “nonattainment” for the fine particulate matter standard violates section 107(d) of the Clean Air Act, which governs the designations, and that the methodology and the individual designations it produced are arbitrary and capricious.

According to the Appeals Court the petitioners what it "to vacate the nonattainment designations and to send EPA back to the drawing board." The Appeals Court ruled, "With one minor exception, we deny the petitions for review. Faced with the complex task of identifying those geographic areas that contribute to fine particulate matter pollution, EPA both complied with the statute and, for all but one of the 225 counties or partial counties it designated as nonattainment, satisfied -- indeed, quite often surpassed -- its basic obligation of reasoned decisionmaking. . . we deny the petitions for review in all respects save one: the designation of Rockland County [New York] is remanded to EPA."

Access the complete opinion (click here).