SW Legal studies in Business

Clean Air Act Plans for Areas Not in Compliance Must Show Plans for Progress
Description Appeals court held that the EPA violated the requirements of the Clean Air Act when it allowed extensions of existing State Implementation Plans for areas not in compliance without a showing of how those states would take stronger steps to be in compliance with air quality standards.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Clean Air Act; State Implementation Plan; Attainment
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts In 1991 the EPA declared the Washington, D.C. Metro area to be in "serious" nonattainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone. As required by EPA rules, the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland had to issue a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to bring the area into compliance by 1999. Before 1999, at the request of the states, the EPA extended the deadline for compliance to 2005. The Sierra Club petitioned for a review of the EPA decision, contending that it did not have the right under the Clean Air Act to extend the deadline.

The EPA's decision is vacated. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA does not have the authority to extend attainment deadlines without reclassifying the area as in "severe" nonattainment, which would require other steps to be taken. EPA's decision was arbitrary and capricious. By law, it has to have SIPs that would provide for rate of progress reductions, which it failed to obtain from the states. That is, the SIPs that would go into effect in 1999 would have to have new, stronger control measures rather than only approve an extension of the controls specified in the earlier plans.

Citation Sierra Club v. Environmental Protection Agency, 292 F.3d 155 (D.C. Cir., 2002)

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