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Oklahoma v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20160
Nos. 12-9526, -9527, (10th Cir., 07/19/2013)

The Tenth Circuit upheld an EPA rule in which it rejected Oklahoma's regional haze plan to limit sulfur dioxide emissions at electric utility power plants and replaced it with its own more stringent regulations via a federal implementation plan (FIP). Petitioners—the state of Oklahoma, the utility company, and energy interest groups—argued that EPA exceeded its statutory authority by rejecting Oklahoma's "best available retrofit technology" (BART) determinations set forth in the SIP and replacing them with its own. But the CAA and its legislative history support the view that EPA may reject BART determinations that do not comply with the BART guidelines. While the legislative history may evidence an intent to prevent EPA from directly making those BART decisions, it does not necessarily evidence an intent to deprive EPA of any authority to ensure that BART decisions comply with the statute. Here, EPA did not reject the petitioners' BART determination because it disagreed with the way it balanced the factors set forth in the guidelines. Rather, it rejected the BART determination because the state failed to follow the guidelines—as required by the CAA—in calculating one of those factors. Thus, EPA had the authority to review Oklahoma’s BART determinations. Moreover, it exercised that authority properly. And EPA did not violate the CAA by promulgating the FIP in the same action in which it partially disapproved of the SIP. The court, therefore, denied the petitions for review.