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Citizens Against Ruining the Env't v. EPA

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20189
Nos. Nos. 07-3197 et al., (7th Cir., 07/28/2008)

The Seventh Circuit denied petitions for review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) decision not to object to operating permits for six coal-fired power plants proposed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). A short time after EPA denied the petitions to object, it issued a notice of violation to the owner of the power plants, finding opacity and new source review violations at the plants. Petitioners subsequently appealed EPA's decisions denying their petitions to object. The Clean Air Act (CAA) grants EPA discretion to determine what a petition must show to make an adequate demonstration of noncompliance. Here, EPA determined that such a demonstration is not made when, among other things, alleged violations are contested by both the permitting authority and the source. Rather, where, as here, there is contested evidence of a potential violation requiring further investigation and analysis, the CAA allows EPA reasonable discretion to determine that the petition failed to demonstrate noncompliance and to refer the matter to the enforcement process. In addition, one of the petitioners, the state's attorney general, lacks standing. The controversy concerns an internal conflict between an office and an agency under the executive branch of the same state government and is more appropriate for the governor, rather than the federal courts, to resolve.