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Association of Irritated Residents v. EPA

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20178
Nos. No. 05-1177, (D.C. Cir., 07/17/2007)

The D.C. Circuit dismissed petitions for review challenging agreements between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and animal feeding operations designed to bring the facilities into compliance with Clean Air Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act permitting and reporting requirements. Petitioners—environmental and community groups—argued that EPA exceeded its statutory authority by entering into the agreements because the agreements are rules and so the Agency should have followed the procedures for rulemaking. But the agreements do not constitute rulemaking. Rather, they are enforcement actions within EPA's statutory authority. EPA could have pursued enforcement actions against each individual operation but instead determined that a broader strategy would lead to quicker industrywide compliance. These judgments—rising from considerations of resource allocation, agency priorities, and costs of alternatives—are well within the agency's expertise and discretion. And because exercises of EPA's enforcement discretion are not reviewable, the petitions were dismissed.