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Environmental Defense v. EPA

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20151
Nos. No. 05-1446, (D.C. Cir., 06/19/2007)

The court denied an environmental group's petition for review of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that implemented the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) program for nitrogen oxides (NOx) under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The court remanded an earlier version of the rule in Environmental Defense Fund v. EPA, 898 F.2d 183, 20 ELR 20577 (D.C. Cir. 1990), and on remand, EPA scrupulously followed the court's instructions. The rule was a reasonable interpretation of applicable provisions of the CAA, and EPA could reasonably find that the rule fulfilled the statutory goal of preserving, protecting, and enhancing air quality in parks and other natural areas. Further, EPA reasonably justified its decision not to address either fine particulate matter or ozone in the promulgated rule and it offered reasonable scientific justification for adopting increments only for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). It expressly adopted the court's contingent safe-harbor approach (in lieu of EPA's earlier absolute safe harbor), explaining in detail how the national ambient air quality standards-based increments, along with other measures, fulfill the PSD's statutory goals. EPA also explained why it did not promulgate standards, incremental or otherwise, for NOx compounds other than NO2.