Thursday, September 10, 2009

State of Michigan v. EPA

Sep 9: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, Case No. 08-2582. As explained by the Appeals Court, the cultural and religious traditions of the Forest County Potawatomi Community (the Community) often require the use of pure natural resources derived from a clean environment. Many years ago, the Community became alarmed by increasing pollution levels in its lakes, wetlands, and forests. To remedy this problem, it submitted a request to U.S. EPA) to redesignate certain tribal lands from Class II to Class I status under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program of the Clean Air Act (the Act). This would have the effect of imposing stricter air quality controls on emitting sources in and around the Community’s redesignated lands.

After nearly fifteen years of administrative proceedings and dispute resolution efforts between the Community and neighboring Wisconsin (which were successful) and Michigan (which were not), the EPA promulgated a final ruling redesignating the Community’s lands to Class I status [See WIMS 4/29/08]. It also issued two companion announcements concluding dispute resolution proceedings with Wisconsin and Michigan. Michigan seeks review of these three final administrative rulings. It asserts that the EPA pursued the redesignation in an improper manner and, as a result, needlessly complicated Michigan’s air quality control programs.

The Appeals Court said, "Because Michigan lacks standing to pursue these claims, we dismiss its petition for review." The Appeals Court stated further in its conclusion, "The Community has waited over fifteen years for finality on the redesignation of its lands. Michigan’s challenge to the EPA’s redesignation actions raises some important issues about the PSD program’s regulatory structure, but Michigan has failed to allege a cognizable injury in fact and thus lacks standing to pursue this case. As a result, the Community need not wait any longer. We dismiss the petition for review."

Access the complete opinion (
click here). Access a 6/30/08 release from MDEQ (click here). Access the Dispute Resolution FR announcement (click here). Access the Final Rule FR announcement (click here). Access EPA's docket for this action with complete background information (click here). [Please Note: The 7th circuit has a temporary web hyperlink nomenclature system. If the link does not work click on this link and enter the case number above (click here).]