WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 07-17-2014
  • Case #: 12-71523
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge M. Smith for the Court; Circuit Judge McKeown and District Judge Robart
  • Full Text Opinion

To have constitutional standing an organizations purported injuries must be casually linked to an Environment Protection Agency (EPA) approval of a regional haze plan; further an EPA approval of a plan is not arbitrary and capricious if it considers the relevant factors for approval.

WildEarth Guardians (WildEarth), a non-profit environmental organization, petitioned for review of theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of the State of Nevada’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) for regional haze under the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C.§§ 7401–7671q (CAA). According to WildEarth, Nevada’s SIP is inadequate, and the EPA’s decision to approve it was arbitrary and capricious. The panel dismissed in part and denied in part the petition for review. First, the panel held that WildEarth lacked Article III standing to challenge the EPA’s approval of Nevada’s SIP. WildEarth has placed exclusive reliance on their member Veronica Egan (“Egan”) to demonstrate standing. Egan failed to show that her claimed injuries are causally linked to the EPA’s approval of SIP and therefore WildEarth lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The panel then held that WildEarth does have standing to challenge the Nevada’s SO2 Best Available Retrofit Technology (“BART”) determination for the Reid Gardner Generating Station (“Reid Gardner”), but concluded that the EPA’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious. WildEarth first argued that the EPA erred in approving Nevada’s SIP because Nevada failed to document it’s consideration of the applicable factors. On this issue, the panel held that Nevada did conduct the required BART analysis for Reid Gardner and did not merely state that the required factors were considered and therefore its decision was not arbitrary and capricious. Finally the panel held that the SIP SO2 limitation for Reid Gardner did not authorize an increase in the SO2 emission rate at the plant and the assertion by WildEarth that the SIP SO2 limitation did increase SO2 emissions rates rests on a misinterpretation of the relevant data. PETITION DISMISSED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

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