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Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20219
Nos. 10-00985, (D.D.C., 07/05/2011) motion to dismiss

A district court held that EPA need not issue endangerment findings under the CAA for marine vessels and nonroad vehicles and engines, but it denied the Agency's motion to dismiss environmental groups' request for an endangerment finding with respect to aircraft engines. EPA argued that the CAA provisions on which the groups rely—§§213 and 231—cannot support their unreasonable-delay claims because they give EPA the discretion to conduct the endangerment findings that the groups seek, but do not require it to do so. The court agreed with respect to CAA §213, which governs marine vessels and nonroad vehicles. The language set forth in §213(a)(4) lacks any such obligation, and inferring one would go beyond Congress' express instructions and create practical difficulties. Accordingly, these claims were dismissed for failure to state a claim. But Congress' use of mandatory language in §231(a)(2)(A), governing aircraft emissions, creates a post-endangerment finding duty to regulate. This language strongly suggests that Congress intended the predicate endangerment finding to be a compulsory step. To hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the Act by allowing EPA to "shirk its duty to combat air pollution." Accordingly, EPA's motion to dismiss was denied as to this claim.