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El Comité Para el Bienestar de Earlimart v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20088
Nos. 12-74184, (9th Cir., 05/08/2015)

The Ninth Circuit denied community groups' petition for review challenging EPA's approval of revisions to California's SIP concerning air emissions from pesticides, known as the "pesticide element." The revisions related to the reduction of volatile organic compounds in the San Joaquin and Ventura air basins. The groups claimed that EPA's interpretation of the pesticide element's commitment to reduce emissions by certain levels was arbitrary and capricious. But the court disagreed given the ambiguity in the pesticide element's plain language. In addition, EPA reasonably determined that the revisions fulfilled the commitment in the original pesticide element to adopt enforceable regulations for reducing emissions. EPA's explanation demonstrates that it considered the relevant data and factors regarding emission levels. And because the revisions fulfilled California's original commitment, EPA did not need to consider whether the original commitment itself was enforceable. EPA also was not unreasonable in finding that California's assurances of compliance with federal and state law pursuant to CAA §110(a)(2)(E) were adequate in light of an earlier Title VI civil rights complaint filed with the Agency concerning volatile organic compounds emissions in the San Joaquin Valley. EPA provided a reasoned explanation for its actions, which took into account the civil rights complaint, the Agency's own investigation, and evidence of California's subsequent compliance with a settlement order.