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No Civil Penalties Against U.S. Allowed Under Clean Air Act
Description Court granted the U.S. summary judgment, holding that the Clean Air Act does not allow the federal government to be assessed civil penalties for CAA violations at federal facilities. Since sovereign immunity was not waived on that issue, there may be no penalties.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Clean Air Act, Punitive Damages, Sovereign Immunity
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Sacramento Air Quality Management District sought civil penalties from the federal government for Clean Air Act violations at various government facilities. Parties moved for summary judgment. The issue is whether the CAA waived sovereign immunity for the U.S. with respect to civil penalties for CAA violations.
Decision This issue has not arisen before with respect to the CAA, but the Supreme Court addressed that issue in a Clean Water Act case. The language in the two statutes, with respect to sovereign immunity, is essentially the same. "Congress did not waive the United States' sovereign immunity from liability for civil penalties imposed ... for past violations of the CAA." Hence, no civil penalties may be imposed for CAA violations at federal facilities and the U.S. is granted summary judgment.
Citation People v. U.S., --F.Supp.2d-- (1998 WL 842865, E.D. Calif)
or
29 F.Supp.2d 652 (E.D., Calif., 1998)

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