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Summit Petroleum Corp. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20167
Nos. 09-4348;10-4572, (6th Cir., 08/07/2012)

The Sixth Circuit vacated EPA's determination that a natural gas operation's plant and production wells separately located within a 43-square-mile area constitute a single stationary source under the CAA Title V permitting program. EPA concluded that the facilities satisfy the regulatory requirement of being "located on . . . adjacent properties" because, although physically independent, they are truly interrelated. Yet, EPA’s conclusion that activities can be adjacent so long as they are functionally related, irrespective of the distance that separates them, undermines the plain meaning of the text, which demands, by definition, that would-be aggregated facilities have physical proximity. Moreover, the aggregation of activities without regard to their physical proximity is inherently unreasonable. On remand, EPA must determine whether the plant and wells are sufficiently physically proximate to be considered "adjacent" within the ordinary—physical and geographical—meaning of that requirement.