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Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice v. Union Pacific Corp.

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20122
Nos. No. 11-08608, (C.D. Cal., 05/29/2012) (Otero, J.)

A district court dismissed environmental groups' complaint against two railroad companies alleging that diesel particulate matter (DPM) emitted by diesel-engine locomotives, trucks, and other equipment has caused and is causing an imminent and substantial risk to human health and the environment in violation of RCRA. The CAA, not RCRA, provides the statutory framework applicable to this case. The CAA governs air pollutants emitted by mobile and stationary sources that are powered by petroleum fuels, whereas RCRA only governs air pollutants resulting from the burning of fuels that can be independently classified as solid or hazardous waste under RCRA. Because locomotives, particularly older locomotive engines, are exempt from certain portions of the CAA, the groups argued that application of RCRA is necessary to fill a gap in the CAA when it comes to railyard emissions. They argued that the companies are exploiting a "loophole" in the CAA that the court should address using the more general mandates of RCRA. But applying RCRA to indirect sources of air pollution would thwart congressional intent and render the statutory prohibition meaningless. It would be unreasonable to assume that even though Congress expressly prohibited federal indirect source regulation under the CAA, it implicitly intended to regulate indirect source emissions through the citizen suit provision of RCRA. And regardless of the conflict between the CAA and RCRA as applied to this case, the groups failed to state a RCRA claim because diesel exhaust is not a "solid or hazardous waste." DPM allegedly emitted as diesel exhaust by vehicles in the railyards is not discarded solid or hazardous waste within the scope of RCRA's citizen suit provision. As such, the groups failed to state a claim under RCRA.