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American Forest & Paper Ass'n v. EPA

ELR Citation: 32 ELR 20744
Nos. No. 01-1296, 294 F.3d 113/(D.C. Cir., 06/28/2002)

The court denies an industry association's petition to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) denial of the association's Clean Air Act (CAA) §112(b)(3) petition to delete methanol from the CAA list of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The association's petition to delist methanol claimed that the highest predicted 24-hour average concentration of methanol from known sources is less than what it asserted is the safe exposure level (SEL) for methanol. The court first holds, however, that EPA's explanation of its reasons for denying the delisting petition satisfies the CAA standard for denying a delisting. EPA did not misinterpret the CAA §112(b)(3) standard for delisting a substance. The statutory language clearly supports the EPA requirement that the petitioner demonstrate that the available data support an affirmative decision that the substance is not reasonably anticipated to result in adverse effects to human health or the environment. The court next holds that EPA's interpretation that it will not remove a substance from the list of HAPs based merely on the inability to conclude that emissions of the substance will cause adverse effects on human health or the environment is entitled to Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 14 ELR 20507 (1984) deference. The court further holds that EPA's technical calculations of the SEL for methanol are entitled to deference and are not arbitrary and capricious. Further, EPA's choice of SEL methodology different than that used by the association was not arbitrary. EPA has long advocated its methodology as superior to that used by the association, and private researchers have acknowledged the superiority of the method used by the Agency. Similarly, EPA's choice of a confidence level for the methodology it used is entitled to deference, especially considering contrary expert testimony on the issue. In addition, EPA reasonably attributed adverse health effects observed in a certain methanol study to methanol exposure.

Counsel for Petitioner
Russell S. Frye
Collier, Shannon & Scott
3050 K St. NW, Ste. 400, Washington DC 20007
(202) 342-8400

Counsel for Respondent
Andrew J. Doyle
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Henderson, J. Before Ginsburg and Rogers, JJ.