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Natl. Parks Conserv. Assn. v. EPA

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20108
Nos. 1:11-cv-01548, (D.D.C., 08/31/2017) (Jackson, J.)

A district court denied EPA's request to amend a 2012 consent decree obligating the Agency to approve state regional haze plans. In 2011, environmental groups sued the Agency to compel it to take action on nine states' regional haze plans. Under a consent decree, EPA was given until September 9, 2017, to finalize the plans. A month before the deadline, EPA requested an extension until December 31, 2018, arguing that the direction of the new administration led to a breakthrough in the Agency's relationship with the state of Texas and that negotiation was preferable to resolve EPA's obligation under the consent decree. The court held that though a district court can modify a consent decree "when changed factual conditions make compliance substantially more onerous,” the situation described was not the sort of significant change in circumstance that would warrant relief. Texas has had ample time to develop, submit, and negotiate a compliant state implementation plan if that was its actual preference.