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Sierra Club v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20165
Nos. 18-60116, (5th Cir., 10/03/2019)

The Fifth Circuit upheld EPA's approval of Louisiana's SIP for controlling regional haze. Environmental groups challenged the approval of Louisiana's selection of low-sulfur coal over a more effective pollutant control as the best available retrofit technology to curb emissions at a coal-fired power plant near Westlake, Louisiana. The court concluded that EPA's decision against requiring tighter pollution control was rational, despite Louisiana's reliance on cost-benefit analyses from the plant's owner that the Agency deemed faulty. Energy companies also argued the SIP overestimated the likelihood that the Westlake plant and a series of plants in Lena, Louisiana, would emit pollutants in excess of the regional haze threshold by relying on an outdated air pollution model. The court again deferred to EPA's selection of the model because the decision involved analysis of scientific data that fell within the Agency's technical expertise, and thus found that EPA did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in relying on the model to approve the SIP. It therefore denied the petitions to review.