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Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future v. Ultra Resources, Inc.

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20209
Nos. 4:11·CV·1360, (M.D. Pa., 09/24/2012) (Mariani)

A district court denied a company's motion to dismiss an environmental group's CAA citizen suit against it for building seven compressor stations without first obtaining a nonattainment new source review permit. The company claimed that it properly applied for and received less stringent permits from Pennsylvania's environmental agency, which decided to issue a permit to each compressor station as an individual facility instead of aggregating them. The group claimed that had the agency aggregated the facilities, the company would have needed a major source permit. Because the company did not have such a permit, the group filed suit. The company filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the proper forum to challenge the issuance of the permits was before the state's environmental hearing board. But CAA §304(a)(3) clearly provides that a citizen group may file suit in federal court against any person who constructs or proposes to construct any new or modified major emitting facility without a permit. Because the plain language of §304 gives the group the right to bring a cause of action directly to federal court, the court has subject matter jurisdiction. And because Congress has clearly established a cause of action for citizen suits in CAA §304, the court also denied the company's motion to abstain from exercising jurisdiction.