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Sierra Club v. EPA

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20132
Nos. 16-1097, (D.C. Cir., 10/24/2017)

The D.C. Circuit held that EPA did not violate the CAA by modifying, without notice and comment, its prior understandings of how to measure a proposed transportation project’s impact on ambient levels of particulate matter. In 2006, EPA revised “hot spot" regulations for fine particulate matter. The regulations were not to take effect until the Agency released modeling guidance. After notice and comment EPA issued the guidance in 2010. In 2015, EPA issued another guidance without notice and comment that expressed an alternative view of the proper methodology for the design value for particulate matter. An environmental group challenged the guidance, arguing that EPA violated the CAA and APA and asserting standing on the basis of the additional exposure to pollutants they allege the change will inflict upon them. The challengers pointed to three planned highway projects in which the new method could be used. The court dismissed the suit, holding that the projects in question have not used the new methodology and that since the guidance is not binding, it is not a final agency action that is able to be challenged.