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Judge Tosses EPA Motion,|Finding It Irrelevant

(CN) - A federal judge denied the Environmental Protection Agency's request to close cases challenging its emission standards based on a judgment in favor of environmentalists 10 years ago.

In 2001, the Sierra Club filed seven different complaints against the EPA for failing to promulgate emission standards for certain sources of three hazardous air pollutants as required by the Clean Air Act.

The consolidated cases have since batted back and forth been the district and circuit court, building a complicated procedural history.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman entered final judgment for the Sierra Club in 2006, and ordered the agency to issue a final rule.

The EPA did issue a rule on the emissions standards, but did not do so with a notice and comment period as ordered.

The D.C. Circuit remanded the rule, finding a comment period required, but the agency then abandoned any intention to reissue the rule, until Friedman ordered it to do so in 2014.

The EPA now claims it has fulfilled its duty to issue the rules, and seeks to dismiss the Sierra Club's cases as moot.

The Sierra Club has filed a separate action seeking review of the merits of the final rule in the D.C. Circuit.

Friedman said the EPA's request "fails to recognize that this Court entered final judgment in favor of Sierra Club and terminated these consolidated cases on March 31, 2006."

All subsequent litigation has stemmed from the court's authority to enforce that order, the judge said.

"The Court therefore will deny EPA's motion to close these consolidated cases as moot. The case already is closed," Friedman concluded.

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