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Alaska Wilderness League v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20193
Nos. 12-71506, (9th Cir., 08/15/2013)

The Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of an environmental group's challenge to a CAA permit that allows an oil company to conduct "pollutant emitting activities" associated with a drilling vessel in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska's North Slope. CAA §504(e) is ambiguous as to whether "increment" requirements are "applicable" to a temporary source like the drilling vessel at issue here, and EPA is entitled to deference in its determination that the oil company need not do so here. Although the vessel is a major source under CAA Title V and requires a permit, it is not a "major emitting facility." Accordingly, no increment requirement would apply were the vessel a stationary source. In addition, EPA permissibly granted a 500-meter exemption to the vessel from “ambient air” standards, as previously held by the court in Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 716 F.3d 1155, 43 ELR 20093 (9th Cir. 2013).