Environmental -- active

American Chemistry Council v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

Risk Management Program litigation

In 2017, the MCLA sued the EPA to challenge the agency’s rule governing risk management plans for chemical facilities and oil refineries. The rule imposed costly and burdensome requirements on facilities that handle hazardous substances without improving worker or community safety. The court stayed the litigation after the EPA delayed enforcement of the rule and proposed a substantive replacement. The EPA then issued a final rule in 2019. The litigation remains stayed pending further orders from the court.

Related Documents:
Petition for review  (March 13, 2017)
Petition to EPA for reconsideration  (February 28, 2017)


Environmental Comm. of the Fla. Elec. Power Coord. Grp. v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

Challenging the EPA's effort to amend state plans regarding emissions during startups, shutdowns and malfunctions

The NAM sued the EPA in 2015 to challenge the EPA’s declaration that 36 states’ state implementation plans (SIPs) under the Clean Air Act are invalid because they allow air emissions in excess of permit limits during startup, shutdown or equipment malfunctions. That flexibility is important to manufacturers that might temporarily exceed permit limits for reasons beyond their control. The litigation has been held in abeyance since April 2017 while the EPA considers whether to revise or rescind the rule.


Environmental Defense Fund v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

Air permitting streamlining

On June 25, 2018, the NAM moved to intervene in a case involving permitting requirements for manufacturers under the Clean Air Act. Environmental groups sued to challenge a guidance document from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that streamlines Clean Air Act permits under the New Source Review program for facilities that expand or modify their operations. If the plaintiffs' claims are successful, facility modifications could be significantly delayed and rendered more expensive. The NAM's motion asks the court to allow the NAM to become a co-defendant in the case with EPA to bring the voice of manufacturers in defense of the EPA's sensible policy.

On July 13, 2018, the court held the case in abeyance pending the completion of an EPA rulemaking to implement the terms of the guidance document. The litigation is expected to reactivate when the final rule issues.

Related Documents:
NAM Motion to Intervene  (June 25, 2018)
NAM brief  (May 31, 2018)


North Dakota v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gases from electric utilities

The NAM sought review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 Clean Power Plan rule governing New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gases from electric utilities. The rule is an attempt to address emissions from new, modified and reconstructed electric generating units. This case is important for manufacturers because EPA should not rely on policy preferences rather than the rule of law.

The NAM sued the EPA with a broad industry coalition to challenge the NSPS rule. We seek to invalidate the rule to pave the way for a sensible alternative. Our briefs argue that the rule is unlawful because EPA’s conclusions are arbitrary and capricious, not supported by substantial evidence, and fail to make the requisite endangerment findings. In 2017, the D.C. Circuit held the rule in abeyance while the current administration considers whether to revise or rescind the rule.

Related Documents:
Brief on the merits  (October 13, 2016)
Preliminary statement of issues  (January 25, 2016)


North Dakota v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

Challenging the EPA's denial of reconsideration of Clean Power Plan

On 2/16/17, the NAM and other associations moved to intervene in a case brought by North Dakota challenging the EPA's latest action on its Clean Power Plan (CPP). The agency rejected a petition to reconsider the rule, and that decision is now being challenged in court. The case is likely to be affected by the court's soon-to-be-issued ruling in our main challenge to the CPP rule, since the procedural and substantive defects in the petition for reconsideration overlap significantly with the issues raised in the case already before the court. A motion to hold the case in abeyance pending EPA reconsideration was granted, and the case remains in abeyance.

Related Documents:
Motion to Intervene  (February 16, 2017)


Sierra Club v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

Challenge to affirmative defense for equipment malfunctions

In June, 2014, the Sierra Club challenged 9 EPA Clean Air Act rules in court, alleging that provisions in each rule are no longer valid as a result of a decision in April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The provisions at issue allows companies an affirmative defense to civil penalties for exceeding emissions limits that are caused by malfunctions. A company must prove that the malfunction was sudden, infrequent, not reasonably preventable and not caused by poor maintenance or careless operation, and that it took steps to correct the malfunction and minimize resulting emissions.

In April, the court decided in Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA to vacate portions of a Portland cement industry rule pertaining to the affirmative defense, finding that the EPA lacked the authority to create a defense applicable in federal court. This Sierra Club suit attempts to remove the defense from 9 other rules in which it arises, involving various industries and kinds of equipment. Challenges to regulations must be brought within 60 days of their promulgation unless the petition "is based solely on grounds arising after such sixtieth day . . . ." The suit claims that the NRDC case decision constitutes grounds arising after the rules were promulgated.

In July, the NAM and 13 other business associations filed a motion to intervene in the suit. Manufacturers will be negatively impacted if the suit is successful, since it could make them liable for permit violations arising from unavoidable equipment malfunctions. That liability can arise both from EPA citations and from citizen suits around the country.

The rules at issue govern chemical manufacturing, pulp and paper mills, steel pickling, marine tank vessel loading operations, industrial steam-generating units, nitric acid plants and others.

On July 25, the court ordered the case held in abeyance while the EPA decided on a pending administrative petition from the Sierra Club to revise the rules. The EPA granted the petition, and on December 17, 2014, the court held this case in abeyance until the EPA completes the rules revision process. As of July 30, 2019, the EPA has not yet completed its administrative process.

Related Documents:
NAM Motion to Intervene  (July 17, 2014)


Troy Corporation v. EPA   (D.C. Circuit)

Scope of CERCLA listings

The NAM filed an amicus brief on behalf of Troy Corporation to argue that the EPA’s listing of sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act should accurately reflect the site’s potential environmental risks and not rely on artificial and inaccurate rules of thumb. The EPA added a creek that runs through and adjacent to Troy Corporation’s manufacturing facility in Newark, NJ to CERCLA’s National Priority List. The listing was based in significant part on the EPA’s assessment that the creek had the potential to contaminate a fishing pier located 13 miles away. That assessment was based solely on regulatory assumptions that Troy rebutted in regulatory comments. In response to those comments, EPA responded that it is entitled to rely on the bright line presumptions in the regulation and need not demonstrate any actual risk of contamination. If such a position is upheld, many manufacturing sites could be listed as “priority” CERCLA sites when they have no actual potential to cause such environmental harm. The NAM’s amicus brief argues that this approach to listing sites violates CERCLA and could adversely impact many manufacturers.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (October 25, 2019)