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Clean Water Action Council of Northeastern Wisconsin, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20198
Nos. 12-3388, (7th Cir., 08/29/2014)

The Seventh Circuit dismissed an environmental group's lawsuit challenging EPA's decision not to object to Wisconsin's renewal of a Title V permit for a pre-1975 paper mill. Under the CAA's PSD program, emissions from pre-1975 sources count as part of the emissions baseline and not toward the overall emissions allowances, and emissions from post-1975 modifications to pre-1975 sources count against a state's pollutant allowance. But the Act does not say what happens to the pre-1975 plant and its other machines, or whether a modification changes the relation between the baseline and the new allowance. In this case, one of the machines at the mill was modified in 2004, and so the group claimed that all of the emissions from the plant, including pre-1975 emissions incorporated into the baseline, should count against the state's allowance. But EPA's interpretation to the contrary is reasonable: pre-1975 emissions remain in the baseline while emissions from post-1975 construction count toward a state’s pollutant allowance. Accordingly, modifications to pre-1975 sources do not mean that the whole plant’s emissions count against the state’s allowance. Only increases caused by the modifications count.