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Sierra Club v. EPA

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20712
Nos. No. 00-2744, 252 F.3d 943/(8th Cir., 06/06/2001)

The court denies a petition to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) approval of a revision to Missouri's Clean Air Act (CAA) state implementation plan that included a rate of progress (ROP) plan for reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the St. Louis moderate ozone nonattainment area. Environmental groups argued that EPA acted contrary to law by approving a plan that purports to achieve a 15% reduction in baseline VOC emissions but does not account for growth in emissions after 1996. According to the groups, CAA §182 demands a 15% reduction in VOC emissions, accounting for any growth after 1990. The court first holds that the CAA requires that the ROP plan provide the necessary VOC emissions reductions through November 15, 1996. Thus, EPA could have reasonably found that the growth for which the 15% ROP plan must account is tied to 1996. Although the state did not submit its ROP plan until 1999 and, therefore, missed the CAA's 1993 deadline, there is no clear indication that Congress intended to alter the amount of reductions that a state must achieve if the state missed the statutory deadline. Consequently, EPA's approval of a plan that failed to consider post-1996 emissions cannot be deemed arbitrary and capricious. The groups also argued that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in approving the state's ROP plan because it relies on projected emissions for certain years to determine the required level of reduction instead of relying on actual emissions data. The court then holds that the CAA clearly provides for the use of projected data since the statute requires state plans to be submitted in 1993, even though the calculations will include emissions levels through 1996. Thus, it was reasonable for EPA to determine that a late-filing state should use projected data as well.

Counsel for Petitioners
Stuart Henry
Henry, Lowerre, Johnson, Hess & Frederick
202 W. 17th St., Austin TX 78701
(512) 479-8125

Counsel for Respondents
Wells D. Burgess
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Nangle,1 J. Before Bye and Beam, JJ.