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WildEarth Guardians v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20106
Nos. 13-1212, (D.C. Cir., 05/13/2014)

The D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s decision denying environmental groups’ request to add coal mines to the regulated list of stationary source categories under the CAA. In denying the groups’ petition for rulemaking, EPA made it clear that the denial was not a determination as to whether coal mines should be regulated as sources of air pollutants. The Agency indicated that it might initiate a rulemaking in the future, but that it would not do so now due to limited resources and ongoing budget uncertainties. The environmental groups appealed the denial, arguing that EPA’s reasons for denying the petition did not “conform to the authorizing statute.” But EPA’s action easily passes muster under the “extremely limited” and “highly deferential” standard that governs a court’s review of an agency’s denial of a rulemaking petition. EPA has discretion to determine the timing and priorities of its regulatory agenda, and here EPA provided a “reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion” to regulate coal mines at this time.