Comm. for a Better Arvin v. EPA

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
  • Date Filed: 05-20-2015
  • Case #: 11-73924
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Chief Judge Thomas and Circuit Judge Kozinski
  • Full Text Opinion

To comply with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, a State Implementation Plan must include waiver measures if they are needed to comply with federal standards.

Several environmental and community groups (collectively, “Petitioners”) challenged whether the “Environmental Protection Agency (‘EPA’) erred in approving California’s State Implementation Plans (‘SIPs’) to comply with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (‘NAAQS’) enacted under the federal Clean Air Act (‘CAA’) concerning ozone and fine particulate matter in the San Joaquin Valley.” The EPA argued that the CAA does not require waiver measures, which had already been subject to an EPA approval process, to undergo an additional process to be included in an SIP. The Ninth Circuit held that to be in compliance with NAAQS, a SIP must include waiver measures to the extent that they are needed to comply with federal standards. Petitioners next contended that the EPA erred when state enforcement measures were not included in the SIP regarding the chip reflash measure, Particulate Matter Control Measure, and the Solid Waste Collection Vehicle Rule. The panel reasoned that since the EPA did not give emission reduction credit based on the chip reflash rule itself, but based it on actions taken before the California Supreme Court invalidated it, the Petitioners’ argument failed. The panel ruled that the Diesel Particulate and Solid Waste rules had minimal effect, therefore the EPA did not need approval under the CAA. Petitioners also argued that California’s reductions were merely aspirational. The panel found that these goals were not aspirational because California’s plans were specific on reduction quantity and deadlines. Lastly, Petitioners argued that the California measures were practically unenforceable because the EPA and citizens would be left to obtain information only available from the California Air Resources Board and the pollution control district. The panel held that information was available throughout the regulatory process, and that the EPA has its own notice and comment rulemaking procedures. PETITION GRANTED in Part, DENIED in Part, and REMANDED.

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