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Sierra Club v. EPA

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20064
Nos. No. 03-1202, (D.C. Cir., 03/13/2007)

The court vacated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants for brick and ceramic kilns. The majority of the standards violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) in light of the court's previous rulings in Cement Kiln Recycling Coalition v. EPA, 255 F.3d 855, 31 ELR 20834 (D.C. Cir. 2001) and National Lime Ass’n v. EPA, 233 F.3d 625, 31 ELR 20375 (D.C. Cir. 2000). In setting the floor for existing large tunnel brick kilns, EPA may not deviate from CAA §112(d)(3)’s mandate that "floors reflect what the best performers actually achieve by claiming that floors must be achievable by all sources using [maximum achievable control technology (MACT)] technology.” Likewise, in setting floors for new large and small tunnel brick and ceramics kilns and existing large tunnel brick kilns, EPA’s method of estimating variability among the best performers by lowering floors to the level of the worst performer using the same technology was unlawful. Further, EPA’s MACT approach to setting floors for existing large tunnel brick kilns and new large and small tunnel brick and ceramics kilns was also unlawful given record evidence that factors other than technology affected emissions. In addition, EPA’s failure to set floors for existing small tunnel brick kilns and existing and new periodic brick kilns violated the CAA's mandate to set emission standards for each listed hazardous air pollutant. The remaining standards violate the Act's requirements for work practice standards. CAA §112(h) allows EPA to substitute work practice standards for emission floors only if measuring emission levels is technologically or economically impracticable. Here, EPA never determined that measuring emissions from ceramics kilns was impracticable; it determined only that it lacked emissions data from ceramics kilns. EPA therefore had no basis for using work practice standards in lieu of emission floors.