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Sierra Club v. EPA

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20115
Nos. 15-1487, (D.C. Cir., 07/06/2018)

The D.C. Circuit denied petitions from industry groups challenging EPA's new kiln air emissions standards for brick and clay manufacturers, and largely granted petitions from environmental groups who argued the standards were not strict enough to protect human health. Industry groups argued that the Agency's methods in setting the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) floors for kiln emissions were arbitrary and capricious, and violated the CAA. But the appellate court disagreed, finding that the Agency's explanations for the methods it used were sufficiently reasoned and entitled to deference. Environmental groups argued that the Agency erred in its use of health thresholds to regulate acid gas pollutants, in its use of the upper prediction limit method in setting MACT floors, and in its provision of alternative MACT floors for brick kilns. The appellate court largely agreed, finding that the Agency did not meet the CAA requirement to include an ample margin of safety in the health threshold, provided insufficient reasoning for its adjustments to five of the MACT floors, and contradicted the CAA's requirement for emissions standards based on the "best" performing sources by allowing the industry to select which emissions limit unit of measurement its kilns must meet. The court therefore denied the industry groups' petition for review, largely granted environmental groups' petition for review, and remanded the emissions standards to EPA for further proceedings.