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Texas v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20003
Nos. 18-60606, (5th Cir., 12/23/2020)

The Fifth Circuit denied petitions to review EPA's 2018 redesignation of Bexar County, Texas, from attainment to nonattainment and designation of three neighboring counties as attainment/unclassifiable for 2015 ozone NAAQS. Texas argued EPA only had authority to change the state's recommended designation of Bexar County when it was "necessary"—meaning it was unavoidable and must be done—and that it was not necessary in this instance. The Agency countered that the CAA authorized changes that "the Administrator deems necessary," which grants discretionary authority to EPA to make such determinations and that, in any event, the Agency did not err in its determination. The court agreed, finding that Congress clearly delegated discretionary authority to EPA to determine when adjustments should be made and that the Agency reasonably interpreted the CAA. An environmental group challenged EPA's decision to designate the neighboring counties as attainment/unclassifiable, contending that the counties contributed to Bexar County's ozone emissions and thus that the Agency's decision changed its interpretation of "contribution" without adequate explanation. The court disagreed, finding that EPA used a permissible, multifactor analysis to determine that the counties' contributions to Bexar County ambient ozone levels were insufficient to merit a nonattainment designation. It therefore denied both Texas' and the group's petitions for review.