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Yazzie v. EPA

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20041
Nos. 14-73100-02, (9th Cir., 03/20/2017)

The Ninth Circuit rejected challenges to EPA's interpretation of the Tribal Authority Rule under the CAA in a case concerning a coal-fired power plant on Navajo land. In 2013, in response to Navajo Nation's failure to issue a Tribal Implementation Plan for the coal-fired plant, EPA proposed federal implementation plans (FIP) that the Agency believed allowed for flexibility in reaching emissions goals. In August 2014, the Agency issued a final rule that imposed a "better than BART” (best available retrofit technology) standard and featured an extended deadline for implementation. Navajo Nation and environmental groups challenged the implementation timeline of the Agency's FIP, as BART standards must be implemented no later than five years after finalization. The court held that the five-year provision did not apply, as the Agency imposed what it interpreted as a better than BART standard, which allows for more flexibility in implementation. The court did not see strong enough evidence to override agency deference.