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McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corp. v. EPA

Citation: 10 ELR 20363
No. Nos. 79-3326 et al., 622 F.2d 260/14 ERC 1620/(6th Cir., 06/02/1980) Aff'd

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a lower court's decision, 9 ELR 20545, upholding the constitutionality of § 125 of the Clean Air Act, which authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prohibit noncompliant major stationary sources from burning fuels other than locally or regionally available coal when necessary to prevent significant local economic disruption or unemployment. An out-of-state, low-sulfur coal producer challenged the provision as facially violative of the Commerce Clause and the Fifth Amendment, and an Ohio utility, which would have to switch to local high-sulfur coal and install stack gas scrubbers to comply with applicable environmental standards if § 125 were to be invoked, was granted permission to intervene. The threatened business injury is sufficiently real and immediate to accord plaintiff coal company standing, and the appeal is not moot because EPA has not yet issued a final rule regarding the invocation of § 125 in Ohio. The court holds that § 125 withstands attack under the Commerce Clause because Congress clearly has the power to regulate coal purchases in ways that impede free trade among the states in order to ease the economic disruption caused by environmental regulation in certain areas of the nation. Similarly, § 125 does not contravene the Fifth Amendment because the statutory classification of regional and non-regional coal producers is rationally related to the legitimate governmental interest of fostering the economic well-being of regions producing high-sulfur coal and the efficient utilization of coal resources.

Counsel for Appellant
James Park Jr.
Stoll, Keenan & Park
1000 First Security Plaza, Lexington KY 40507
(606) 259-0444

Donald H. Vish
1107 Richmond Rd., Lexington KY 40502
(606) 269-2754

Counsel for Intervenor-Appellant
Lowell P. Hughes
Van Antwerp, Hughes, Monge & Jones
1416 Winchester Ave., Ashland KY 41101
(606) 325-7717

Counsel for Appellees
Stephen D. Ramsey
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4160

Joel S. Taylor, Ass't Attorney General
30 E. Broad St., Columbus OH 43215
(614) 466-8486

Before: EDWARDS, Chief Judge, and ENGEL and JONES, Circuit Judges.