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Clean Air Council v. Mallory

Citation: 33 ELR 20074
No. No. 01-179, 226 F. Supp. 2d 705/(E.D. Pa., 10/18/2002)

The court holds that the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by failing to implement state implementation plan (SIP)-required emission standards for the state's enhanced vehicle inspection and maintenance (I/M) program. The SIP requires the commonwealth to employ specific pass/fail emission standards, known as cutpoints, for acceleration simulation mode testing as part of an enhanced I/M program for the Philadelphia ozone nonattainment area. The commonwealth failed to implement the final cutpoints, and an environmental group brought a CAA suit alleging that the secretaries, as the heads of the departments with a duty to implement the I/M program, violated the CAA. The secretaries admitted failure to implement the final cutpoints, but claimed sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. The court first holds, however, that Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), allows suits against individual state officers for prospective relief to end ongoing violations of federal law. Although Ex parte Young is not available under Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996), where the U.S. Congress has created a detailed remedial scheme for enforcement of a statutorily created right against a state, the CAA does not contain a detailed remedial scheme. The CAA includes a citizen suit provision that is integral to the limited remedial scheme under the CAA and that allows any person to bring a private enforcement action against state officials when within the limits of the Eleventh Amendment. Likewise, the court holds that the commonwealth does not have a special sovereignty interest in the design and enforcement of its I/M program. The implementation of the final cutpoints required by the SIP does not amount to an expansive and permanent intrusion on sovereign interests. The court further holds that implementation of the final cutpoints is federal law under the CAA and not a state-law requirement outside the scope of Ex parte Young. The CAA requires SIPs and they have the force and effect of federal law. Moreover, the group is seeking to enforce specific SIP requirements and not compliance with the CAA's national ambient air quality standards requirements, which are unenforceable emission standards. In addition, the court holds that the failure rates of older cars in the I/M program is immaterial to implementing the final cutpoint. Therefore, the secretaries violated the CAA by not fully implementing the I/M program. As a remedy, the court will conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine a schedule for implementing the final cutpoint emission standards.

[Counsel not available.]