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Sierra Club v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20272
Nos. 12-2853 et al., (7th Cir., 12/16/2014)

The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review challenging EPA’s decisions to redesignate three geographic areas—Milwaukee-Racine, Greater Chicago, and the Illinois portion of the St. Louis area—as having attained the 1997 NAAQS for ozone. Before redesignating an area, the CAA requires EPA to confirm not just that ozone in an area dropped below a certain level, but also that the improvement in air quality resulted from "permanent and enforceable reductions in emissions." An environmental group argued that EPA failed to meet this requirement. It claimed that in determining that ozone reductions were due to permanent and enforceable measures, EPA identified a correlation but not causation. The group contended that EPA should have more closely considered the possible effects of the economic recession, fuel prices, weather, and "other impermanent conditions" on the reductions in ozone (and ozone precursor) levels. But the court disagreed. The CAA required EPA to confirm the necessary ozone reduction and tie it to a "permanent and enforceable" drop in precursor emissions resulting from "permanent and enforceable" regulation. EPA did that, examining the relevant data and articulating "a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made." EPA's decision, therefore, was not arbitrary or capricious.