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Natural Resources Defense Council v. Ruckelshaus

ELR Citation: 14 ELR 20817
Nos. No. 84-758, 21 ERC 1953/(D.D.C., 09/14/1984)

The court rules that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated non-discretionary duties by failing to promulgate standards and nonconformance penalties for emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and engines under Clean Air Act §201(a)(3)(A)(i)-(iii) and §205(g)(3). The court holds the Clean Air Act directed EPA to promulgate standards for emissions of oxides of nitrogen from 1985 model year heavy-duty vehicles during or before 1981 and particulate standards for vehicles in the 1981 model year. In addition, the Act required promulgation of nonconformance penalty regulations by August 7, 1978. The court rules that these duties were mandatory. The language of the statute and legislation leave no question that EPA was to have no discretion to deviate from the statutory schedules, a conclusion confirmed by courts of appeals and by EPA itself. EPA flagrantly failed to comply with the statutory mandate. The Agency did not take preliminary regulatory steps until 1981 and has failed to make further progress since. The court next rules that EPA failed to establish that prompt promulgation is infeasible, the only grounds on which the court could allow the extra time sought by EPA. EPA has not demonstrated that budgetary or staffing shortages or the need for additional information necessiate additional delay.

The court orders EPA to propose emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines no later than October 15, 1984, and to promulgate final standards by March 15, 1985. In addition, it orders EPA to promulgate final generic nonconformance penalty rules by August 31, 1985, and final specific nonconformance penalty rules by December 31, 1985. The court finds that there is no need for the additional time requested by EPA since the attention already given the issues should allow the Agency to compress its normal procedures and there is no need for review by the Office of Management and Budget.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Eldon Greenberg
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
1350 New York Ave. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20005
(202) 783-7800

Counsel for Defendant
David E. Dearing
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2741