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Sierra Club v. Pruitt

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20027
Nos. C 17-0629, (N.D. Cal., 02/16/2018) (White, J.)

A district court held that EPA's year-long delay in implementing formaldehyde emission standards for domestically manufactured and imported composite wood products violated the Formaldehyde Standards in Composite Wood Products Act. The Act required EPA to issue implementing regulations no later than July 1, 2013. EPA proposed new regulations in June 2013, and the formaldehyde rule was finally published in the Federal Register in December 2016. On January 20, 2017, however, President Trump directed executive agencies to freeze regulations that had been published in the Federal Register but had not yet gone into effect. EPA delayed the effective dates of the formaldehyde rule until March 21, 2017, and then another 60 days until May 22, 2017, when it went into effect. But on May 22, it proposed to extend the rule's compliance deadlines for another three months, and in September, it published a new final rule that set both the manufacturing and emission standards compliance dates to December 12, 2018. Accordingly, the current deadline far exceeds the mandatory 180-day deadline after promulgation of the formaldehyde rule and is years after the congressional deadline. EPA argued the Act allows it to designate the manufacture date beyond the 180 days limit for compliance with the emission standards. But this interpretation violates the Act’s mandatory expedient compliance deadline and prohibition against stockpiling. It also creates inconsistency within the Act's text, renders the 180-day compliance deadline superfluous, and leads to the absurd result of permitting perpetual delay of the rule's effectiveness. As such, the delay rule is in excess of EPA’s authority.