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Citizens for Pa.'s Future v. Mallory

Citation: 33 ELR 20138
No. No. 02-798, (E.D. Pa., 12/18/2002)

The court grants an environmental group's motion for partial summary judgment against Pennsylvania officials for failing to implement the state-enhanced vehicle inspection and maintenance (I/M) program in 16 counties by November 15, 1999, as required by the Pennsylvania state implementation plan (SIP). The officials did not deny their failure to implement the I/M program but instead argued that the group's suit is barred by the Eleventh Amendment because they failed to satisfy the criteria for the Ex parte Young exception. The officials relied on Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44 (1996), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Ex parte Young exception is not available where "Congress has prescribed a detailed remedial scheme for the enforcement against a [s]tate of a statutorily created right." Unlike the statute involved in Seminole Tribe, however, the Clean Air Act (CAA) contains a limited remedial scheme. Moreover, by including the citizen suit provision in the CAA, the U.S. Congress implicitly authorized enforcement of the CAA against state officials under the Ex parte Young exception. And unlike the petitioner in Seminole Tribe, the group is only seeking to obtain injunctive relief under the CAA's limited remedial scheme. Seminole Tribe is therefore distinguishable from the instant action, and the group's CAA claim against the officials is not barred. The court also rejected the officials' argument that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) approval of the Pennsylvania's SIP did not transform the I/M program into federal law for any purpose other than enforcement by EPA because the I/M program was not explicitly incorporated into federal law. However, once approved into a SIP by EPA under the CAA, state regulations such as the Pennsylvania vehicle testing program are federal laws. Because the group properly brought a claim under the CAA's citizen suit provision to enforce the Pennsylvania SIP's November 15, 1999, deadline, and because there is no genuine issue of material fact on the issue of the officials' liability, the officials were ordered to implement the I/M program in the 16 counties at issue.

[Counsel not available at this printing.]