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WildEarth Guardians v. McCarthy

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20061
Nos. 13-cv-1275, (D. Colo., 03/11/2014) (Martinez, J.)

A district court dismissed an environmental group's CAA citizens suit against EPA for failing to make a finding that Idaho and Utah failed to timely submit SIPs for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). In 2007, EPA issued a rule that required states to submit their SIPs for PM2.5 within three years after the Agency designated areas as not meeting the standards—June 14, 2011. It issued the "implementing rule" under Subpart 1 of Part D of Title I of the CAA. But in 2013, in a case challenging the rule, the D.C. Circuit held that EPA should have implemented the rule under subpart 4, which requires plans to be submitted within 18 months. In so doing, however, the court did not vacate the rule or direct EPA to take immediate action to ensure that all PM2.5 SIPs were submitted pursuant to Subpart 4. In fact, the court declined to set a deadline for EPA to re-promulgate the rules governing PM2.5 SIPs. Because the D.C. Circuit decision did not vacate EPA's implementing rule that existed on June 14, 2011, the states were not obligated to file their PM2.5 SIPs at that time. Therefore, the states' failure to file the SIPs by that date did not trigger EPA's obligation to issue a finding of non-compliance. Moreover, the court held that retroactive application of Subpart 4 to impose deadlines of which the states were not previously aware would be unfair and contrary to the state/federal balance outlined in the CAA. Because the groups failed to show that EPA has missed a nondiscretionary deadline, the court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.