WASHINGTON (CN) – In a major setback for the Bush administration and its efforts to peel back provisions of the Clean Air Act, the D.C. Circuit struck down an Environmental Protection Agency rule blocking state and local authorities from ramping up the monitoring requirements for industrial polluters.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the government violated the Clean Air Act by allowing major industrial polluters, such as oil refineries and power plants, to circumvent the monitoring and recording requirements of 1990 amendments to the act.
The amendments required stationary pollution sources to obtain permits from state and local authorities, which set emission limits and monitoring requirements.
When emission standards have inadequate monitoring requirements – for example, a daily emissions limit that requires only annual monitoring – permitting authorities had taken to supplementing the monitoring requirement “to assure compliance with the permit terms and conditions.”
But the EPA issued a rule in 2006 to stop state and local authorities from patching the monitoring requirements. The agency was backed by the American Petroleum Institute, whose members include Chevron, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips.
Environmentalists challenged the EPA rule, claiming it violated the intent of the 1990 amendments.
The majority agreed. Judge Griffith said the amendments provide “precisely what we have concluded the Act requires.”
Judge Kavanaugh dissented, saying the statutory language supports the agency’s 2006 rule.