Environmental -- 2017



Sierra Club v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

Defending EPA's sulfur dioxide regulation against accelerated enforcement

The NAM is a member of the NAAQS Implementation Coalition, which joined in a motion to intervene in a suit brought by the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council against the EPA for its regulation on sulfur dioxide (SO2). The regulation, published August 5, 2013, designated 29 areas as "nonattainment" for SO2 based on recorded air quality monitoring data, and the EPA announced its intention to address the regulation of the rest of the country in separate regulations in the future. The Sierra Club sued, and is expected to argue that the EPA should use computer modeling to estimate which areas of the country are in "nonattainment" now, rather than waiting for actual monitoring data.

Our intervention is intended to allow us to argue that the modeling predictions urged by the Sierra Club will allow areas to be designated as nonattainment when in fact they are not. That will increase the number of such areas, and manufacturers will have to spend billions of dollars to achieve far greater emission reductions than would be required if designations were based on actual air quality monitoring data.

On 3/2/15, a federal judge approved a consent decree requiring the EPA to publish SO2 NAAQS within 16 months and take further action thereafter on all areas of the country that have not yet been designated for a primary SO2 NAAQS. The areas to be designated include any areas with stationary sources that emitted more than 16,000 tons of SO2 in 2012 or emitted more than 2,600 tons and had an annual average emission rate of 0.45 lbs. SO2/Mmbtu or higher in 2012.

The consent decree was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's approval of it on August 28, 2017. The consent decree extends the timeline for the EPA to promulgate a new rule. The deadline is now December 31, 2020, and will allow for real-life modeling data to be used instead of the Sierra Club's recommendation of computer modeling. This is a favorable outcome for manufacturers.


Related Documents:
Motion to Intervene  (November 4, 2013)

 


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