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National Steel Corp. v. Gorsuch

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20295
Nos. No. 81-3406, 700 F.2d 314/18 ERC 1794/(6th Cir., 02/14/1983)

The court upholds the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) conditional approval and disapproval of portions of Michigan's state implementation plan (SIP), which had the effect of requiring the state to adopt EPA's reasonably available control technology (RACT) standards. Applying an arbitrary and capricious standard of review, the court first rules that EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require application of RACT, at a minimum, on existing sources in nonattainment areas. EPA's interpretation, which is due deference, is not unreasonable even though installation of RACT alone will not necessarily bring about attainment, and is consistent with the language and history of the nonattainment provisions of the Act. The court next rules that the Agency did not act beyond the scope of its authority or unreasonably in requiring the state to follow federal RACT guidelines. While the Act gives the states wide latitude in formulating their SIPs, EPA is authorized to evaluate proposed state standards in terms of its own data base. While the court suggests that the Agency has gone too far in establishing a presumption that a state RACT standard less stringent than the federal guidelines is inadequate, EPA did not err in imposing its own standards in this case because the Michigan SIP failed to provide enough information to evaluate its version of RACT.

The court also rules that the Act does not require EPA to demonstrate that an individual source contributes to an area's nonattainment before it may be required to install RACT. Finally, the court rules that petitioner's claim that specific standards were technologically infeasible is without merit and that its claims of economic infeasibility are irrelevant under the Act. As explained in the legislative history and interpreted by the courts, the Act does not allow EPA to rely on infeasibility arguments in evaluating or fashioning a SIP.

Counsel for Petitioner
Peter G. Veeder, Chester R. Babst III, Louise W. Yoder
Thorp, Reed & Armstrong
One River Front Ctr., Pittsburgh PA 15222
(412) 394-7793

Counsel for Respondent
William Pedersen, Eric B. Smith
Office of the General Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC 20460
(202) 382-4134

Rosanne Mayer
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5409

Before: ENGEL and JONES, Circuit Judges, and VAN PELT, Senior District Judge.*