Monday, January 23, 2012

Sierra Club v. EPA

Jan  20: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 10-71457 and 10-71458. On Petition for Review of an Order of U.S. EPA. The Appeals Court explains that Sierra Club and several environmental groups, (collectively, Petitioners), petition for review of U.S. EPA's approval of the 2004 State Implementation Plan (2004 SIP) for the San Joaquin Valley's nonattainment area for the one-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Petitioners contend that: 1) EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), by approving the 2004 SIP knowing that the emissions inventory data on which the plan relied were, as an actual matter, outdated and inaccurate by the time EPA approved the plan in 2010; 2) EPA violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by approving the 2004 SIP because the emissions inventory data on which it relied were outdated and inaccurate within the meaning of the statute; 3) EPA violated the CAA by approving the 2004 SIP without the inclusion of the State-adopted regulations on which the plan relied; and 4) EPA violated the CAA by approving the 2004 SIP knowing that attainment of the one-hour ozone NAAQS by the 2010 deadline was impossible.
    The Appeals Court held that EPA's 2010 approval of the 2004 SIP, which was based on data current only as of 2004, was arbitrary and capricious. The Appeals Court indicated that no other issued need be decided. The Appeals Court concluded, "Our role is not to substitute our conclusions based on the facts presented for those of the agency, and we express no opinion as to what conclusion EPA should have reached, with respect to the validity of the 2004 SIP, upon consideration of the 2007 data. But we should not silently rubber stamp agency action that is arbitrary and capricious in its reliance on old data without meaningful comment on the significance of more current compiled data. We hold that EPA's failure to even consider the new data and to provide an explanation for its choice rooted in the data presented was arbitrary and capricious. . . We grant the petition for review and remand the matter to EPA for further proceedings consistent with our decision."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Air, #CA9]

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