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Los Angeles, City of v. Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20103
Nos. 1:12CV1683, (E.D. Cal., 05/02/2013) (Ishii)

A district court dismissed a city's lawsuit against California state and local air districts challenging fees it must pay to mitigate wind-blown dust from a dry lake bed that exceed state and federal air standards. Section 42316 of the California Health and Safety Code authorized the district to order the city to undertake measures at the city's expense to mitigate the production of dust from the lake. While the city recognized the broad scope of authority of states to craft plans to achieve NAAQS standards, it argued that §42316 conflicts with the CAA because it impermissibly transfers responsibility for compliance from the "owner or operator" of the emitting facility to the city, which is neither owner or operator of the lake bed. But in promulgating §42316, California did by legislative enactment no more than what it was empowered to do under the CAA: it identified the entity whose activities are most central to the emission of high levels of a hazardous pollutant and tasked that entity with the responsibility to mitigate those emissions as a part of its overall plan to bring the level of emissions in the district to an acceptable level. Whether one characterizes the placement of responsibility on the city to carry out and fund the mitigation strategy as emanating from state or federal law makes no difference since California was empowered to place that responsibility under either.