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South Coast Air Quality Management Dist. v. EPA

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20003
Nos. No. 04-1200, (D.C. Cir., 12/22/2006)

The court vacated the Final Phase 1 Rule to Implement the Eight-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, promulgated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2004 under the Clean Air Act to reduce smog. The court held that EPA "failed to heed the restrictions on its discretion set forth in the Act." The manner in which the rule treats the relationship between Subpart 1 and Subpart 2 fails to adhere to the statutory scheme enacted by Congress in 1990 to address ground-level ozone in nonattainment areas. Specifically, it violates the Act by subjecting areas with eight-hour ozone in excess of 0.09 parts per million to Subpart 1 requirements. In addition, while EPA retains the authority to revoke the one-hour ozone standard, it must comply with the Act's anti-backsliding requirements and keep in place measures intended to constrain ozone levels—even those that apply to outdated standards. This principle encompasses the one-hour new source review requirements, one-hour penalties, rate-of-progress milestones, contingency plans, and motor vehicle conformity demonstrations. Withdrawing any of them from a state implementation plan, as contemplated by the 2004 rule, constitutes impermissible backsliding.