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Group Loses Challenge |to EPA Emissions Rules

(CN) - The D.C. Circuit dismissed as time-barred a lawsuit brought by a transportation builders association, challenging Environmental Protection Agency rules that purportedly let states set stricter emissions standards than allowed by federal law.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), whose members build roads, public transit and airports, asked the courts in 2002 to review the EPA's rules. It claimed that the EPA's rules interpreting the Clean Air Act effectively allowed states to adopt emissions policies that contradict the Act.

Specifically, the agency's rules let states regulate emissions from certain categories of engines and vehicles that are exempt under the Act, the association claimed.

The D.C. Circuit said it doesn't have jurisdiction to hear the case, because it's forced to treat the petition for review as a challenge to EPA regulations under National Mining Association v. U.S. Department of the Interior. Revision-seeking petitions can't be reviewed outside the original statute of limitations, the three-judge panel ruled.

The association's 2008 petition falls outside 60-day period of review, "insofar as the petition raises points that could have been brought to our attention in 1997," Judge Stephen Williams wrote.

The EPA did nothing that would open a new 60-day window, the ruling states.

Its 2007 and 2008 rulemaking was in response to the association's petition, not a reconsideration of regulations, the court noted.

The EPA explicitly stated in its notice of proposed rulemaking that it was "not proposing to adopt the ... changes requested by ARTBA in its petition," according to the ruling. The agency made just two minor changes, which were insufficient to trigger reopening, the court said.

"[W]e conclude that EPA did not reopen consideration of the regulations ARTBA asked it to revise," Williams wrote.

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