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Sierra Club v. Leavitt

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20030
Nos. No. 03-10266, (11th Cir., 05/05/2004)

The Eleventh Circuit held that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to object to a state preconstruction permit for a new "power block" at a Georgia power plant. Georgia's preconstruction permit rule prohibits the state from granting permits to applicants that own or operate noncompliant major stationary sources. Here, the applicant owns part of a noncompliant major stationary source. The state rule is not clear regarding how to treat a partial owner of a noncompliant major stationary source. Although the court would ordinarily defer to EPA's reasonable interpretation, the Agency failed entirely to address or explain this problem in deciding not to object to the permit. EPA implicitly assumed that a major stationary source can be broken into parts with compliance determined individually for purposes of the Georgia rule. Without explanation or acknowledgment, the Agency gave the term "major stationary source" two different meanings in a single regulatory sentence. The court therefore vacated and remanded EPA's order denying an environmental group's petition for review.