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Sierra Club v. EPA

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20014
Nos. No. 02-1253, (D.C. Cir., 01/13/2004)

The court rejects a challenge to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations governing the emission of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from primary copper smelters. After surveying the technology used at the various locations, EPA determined that copper smelters used particulate matter (PM) control devices to reduce HAP emissions. EPA accordingly set standards for HAP emissions in terms of PM rather than setting individual limits for each HAP. Petitioners argued that EPA violated §112(d)(3) of the Clean Air Act by setting surrogate emission standards to confirm the proper use of a chosen technology instead of basing standards on what the best sources achieve with respect to HAP emissions control. The standards, however, accurately reflect the control achieved by the best-performing sources. EPA established emission standards for the various copper smelting processes based upon the actual PM emissions of the relevant units from performance tests or based upon established regulatory limits. In addition, the use of PM as a surrogate was reasonable, even in light of the potential variability of impurities in copper ore. Further, EPA adequately considered alternatives to the PM standard, and EPA’s opacity-based standard for fugitive HAP emissions is both reasonable and lawful. The court also rejects petitioner's claims that EPA unlawfully refused to impose beyond-the-floor standards, that it failed to take into account non-air quality health and environmental impacts, that its monitoring requirement was inadequate, and that the final rule violated the Endangered Species Act's interagency consultation requirements.

Counsel for Petitioner
James S. Pew
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund
1625 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Ste. 702, Washington DC 20036
(202) 667-4500

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