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Safe Air for Everyone v. EPA

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20026
Nos. No. 05-75269, (9th Cir., 01/30/2007)

The court held that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) erred in approving an amendment to Idaho's state implementation plan (SIP) that allowed farmers to burn the residue left in their fields after harvesting their crops. EPA grounded its approval on the premise that the preexisting Idaho SIP did not ban field burning and that the amendment only clarified what was already the case. Yet Idaho's SIP clearly banned field burning. This ban does not produce "absurd results" or contravene the pertinent administrative history. Likewise, no administrative intent contradicts the plain meaning of the ban. Hence, federal law, by virtue of the SIP, banned field burning in Idaho at the time EPA approved the amendment. Because Clean Air Act §§110(l) and 193 prohibit SIP amendments that interfere with meeting air quality standards, at least absent further analysis, and because EPA's approval would weaken the preexisting SIP, its action was arbitrary and capricious.