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Court Tosses Challenge to Alaska Emissions Permit

(CN) - The 9th Circuit rejected a lawsuit challenging a Clean Air Act permit issued to an oil and gas processing plant in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope.

Bill MacClarence asked the Environmental Protection Agency to object to a permit granted to British Petroleum Exploration by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

MacClarence said the permit was improperly granted, because it didn't properly "aggregate" stationary sources of air pollution.

Under federal law, a stationary source is "any building, structure, facility, or installation which emits or may emit a regulated ... pollutant." Several sources together, operated by the same entity, constitute a "major stationary source."

The Alaska department explained that it refused to aggregate the entire Prudhoe Bay area, because the center covers roughly 300 square miles. Aggregation for such a large region "stretches the concept of proximity" underlying aggregation determinations, the department said. It argued that there is no precedent for defining such a large stationary source.

The EPA administrator refused to object to the permit, and MacClarence appealed.

The 9th Circuit ruled that the administrator was correct in denying MacClarence's petition, because he failed to show why the entire Prudhoe area should be aggregated. MacClarence didn't offer any references, legal analysis or evidence for his claim, the court noted.

Thus, the EPA's decision "did not constitute an impermissible interpretation of MacClarence's burden," Judge Richard Paez wrote.


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