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Sierra Club v. Thomas

Citation: 17 ELR 20875
No. No. C-86-0971-WWS, 658 F. Supp. 165/25 ERC 1868/(N.D. Cal., 04/08/1987)

The court holds that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must issue regulations to implement its program to prevent significant deterioration of air quality (PSD program) from emissions of nitrogen oxides by October 9, 1988. The court holds that EPA failed to comply with § 166 of the Clean Air Act by not issuing PSD regulations for nitrogen oxides within the two-year timeframe set by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977, thereby entitling the plaintiffs to an injunction compelling EPA to perform its statutory duties. The court holds that, absent impossibility or infeasibility due to constraints of budget, manpower, or a lack of information, the court-ordered time-frame for EPA's compliance is the same as that determined by Congress. The court goes on to hold that EPA has not met its heavy burden of demonstrating that it is impossible or impractical for the Agency to comply within two years. The court holds that the 50 months requested by EPA is not merited since this regulatory task is not more complex or burdensome on EPA budgetary and manpower resources than other tasks of similar complexity that have been completed within two years. The court further holds that Clean Air Act § 317, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and the Paperwork Reduction Act do not make rulemaking significantly more complex. The court accordingly holds that a delay in implementation is not justified. The court finally holds that it need not determine the briefest timeframe possible for issuing PSD regulations and order a shorter period, since Congress has determined that two years is feasible.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Deborah S. Reames
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Inc.
2044 Fillmore St., San Francisco CA 94115
(415) 567-6100

Robert E. Yuhnke
Environmental Defense Fund
1405 Arapahoe, Boulder CO 80302
(303) 440-4901

Counsel for Defendant
Rodney Hamblin, Francis Boone, Ass't U.S. Attorneys
450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco CA 94102
(415) 556-1126

Lisa F. Ryan
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2000