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Environmental Protection Agency v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P.

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20094
Nos. 12-1182, (U.S., 04/29/2014)

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded a lower court decision vacating EPA's transport rule, also known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which sets sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions limits for 28 upwind states based on those states' contributions to downwind states' air quality problems. The CAA's "good neighbor" provision requires upwind states to prevent sources within their borders from emitting federally determined amounts of pollution that travel across state lines and contribute significantly to a downwind state's nonattainment of federal air quality standards. Under the transport rule, upwind states may be required to reduce emissions by more than their own significant contributions to a downwind state's nonattainment. Despite the lower court's finding to the contrary, the Supreme Court held that the CAA does not command that states be given a second opportunity to file a SIP after EPA has quantified the state's interstate pollution obligations. Disapproval of a SIP, without more, triggers EPA’s obligation to issue a federal implementation plan. The fact that EPA had previously accorded upwind states a chance to allocate emission budgets among their in-state sources does not show that the Agency acted arbitrarily by refraining to do so here. In addition, the good neighbor provision does not require EPA to disregard costs and consider exclusively each upwind state’s physically proportionate responsibility for each downwind air quality problem. Here, the Court concluded that EPA’s cost-effective allocation of emission reductions among upwind states is a permissible, workable, and equitable interpretation of the good neighbor provision. Ginsburg J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas, J., joined. Alito, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.