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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

States That Sat on Clean Air Duties Get Slapped

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The government must fault 35 states for failing to submit air-quality plans that reflect new national ozone standards, a federal judge ruled.

WildEarth Guardians, Midwest Environmental Defense Center and Sierra Club filed suit under the Clean Air Act's citizen-suit provision to compel the EPA and its administrator, Lisa Jackson, to make findings of "failure to submit" for 40 states that did not submit implementation plans complying with revised ozone levels.

The EPA updated the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone to 0.075 parts per million on March 27, 2008.

After the EPA modified ozone standards, states had until March 12, 2011, to submit their revised implementation plans.

Under the Clean Air Act, failure to submit a plan by the three-year deadline requires the EPA to make a finding of "failure to submit."

The environmental groups said that the EPA failed to issue findings of failure to submit by Sept. 12, 2012, the end of its six-month deadline.

They also claimed that the EPA failed to take action on Kentucky and Tennessee's plans before the six-month deadline.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers partly granted the groups summary judgment Wednesday, providing relief to Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Oregon and West Virginia because they submitted plans before the lawsuit was filed.

She also found that the EPA had failed to take action on Tennessee and Kentucky's implementation plans.

Rogers ordered the agency to issue findings of failure to submit for the 35 states that did not submit plans. It has until Jan. 4, 2013, to either fully or partly approve the plans submitted by Kentucky and Tennessee, or it must disapprove the plans in full.

"After consideration of the evidence and arguments submitted by the parties, and in light of the parties' substantial agreement as to the findings herein, the Court finds that there is no triable issue of material fact and that plaintiffs are entitled to judgment as a matter of law," Rogers wrote.

She vacated all other case-management hearings, and ordered the parties to "prepare a proposed form of judgment on the claims herein and submit it to the court within three days."

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