Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jensen Family Farms, Inc. v. Monterey Bay Air Pollution District

May 27: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 09-16790. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. In 2007, the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District (District) adopted and began enforcing rules that regulate diesel-powered engines. In particular, the District's regulatory regime: (1) requires owners and operators to register and pay fees for certain diesel engines used in agricultural operations, and (2) sets emissions standards for stationary diesel engines within the District. The principal question in the case -- among other questions -- is whether the District's rules are preempted by the Federal Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 7401 et seq. The Appeals Court said, "We hold that the District rules are not preempted, and affirm the district court's judgment on the pleadings in favor of the defendants.
    Explaining further its decision, the Appeals Court said, "Jensen advances two theories of 'state preemption' of Rules 220 and 310. Jensen first argues that 'insofar as [Rules 220 and 310] were issued pursuant to Cal. Code Regs. tit. 17, § 93116, they are preempted.' Because Rules 220 and 310 were issued pursuant to Cal. Health and Safety Code §§ 39656, 39659 and 39666, not Cal. Code Regs. tit. 17, § 93116, there is no basis for Jensen's claim that § 93116 'preempts' Rules 220 and 310. Jensen also argues that Rules 220 and 310 are preempted by Cal. Code Regs. tit. 13, § 2450 et seq. which creates California's 'Portable Equipment Registration Program.' These regulations 'preempt districts from permitting, registering, or regulating portable engines and equipment units . . . except in the circumstances specified in the regulations.' Id. Registration is voluntary and '[i]n the event that the owner of an engine or equipment unit elects not to register under this program, the engine or equipment unit shall be subject to district permitting requirements. . . .' Id. at § 2451(d). Because Jensen has not alleged that it participated in this voluntary program, the Rules are not preempted as applied to Jensen."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [*Land]

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