Another Citizen Suit Under the Clean Air Act Doomed on Standing Grounds

On August 30, 2021, a North Carolina federal court dismissed a Clean Air Act citizen-group lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club (plaintiffs) against defendant University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) for certain violations of its Title-V permit, which comprehensively regulates a particular facility’s emission sources. In granting UNC’s summary judgment motion, and denying the plaintiffs’ cross-motion for summary judgment, the court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing, pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution, as a …

Continue Reading

Third Circuit Affirms No Duplicative Reporting for “Federally Permitted Releases”

Two fires at the U.S. Steel Mon Valley Works facility near Pittsburgh, PA in December 2018 and 2019 resulted in the release of pollutants, including hydrogen sulfide, benzene, and coke oven gas into the air. Following air monitoring that revealed increased levels of the pollutants, in compliance with its Clean Air Act permits and regulations, U.S. Steel reported the fires and emissions to the Allegheny County Health Department—the local governmental arm that enforces the Clean Air Act.

Notwithstanding, the Clean Air Council, a nonprofit environmental …

Continue Reading

Ethylene Oxide: The Coming Storm?

Ethylene oxide is a gas commonly used to make other chemicals utilized in a variety of consumer and industrial goods, including fabric, detergents, medicines, and adhesives. It’s even used to sterilize medical devices and spices and to kill microorganisms in grains. But ethylene oxide is acknowledged as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing compound or substance) in high-level concentrations and extended periods of exposure. Ethylene oxide has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer, among many other cancers and physical ailments.

The …

Continue Reading

EPA Finalizes Cost-Benefit Rule for Clean Air Act Rulemaking

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Clean Air Act (CAA) cost-benefit rule, which it proposed in June 2018 and held a public hearing on in July 2020. A procedural rule, it is meant to “improve the rulemaking process under the Clean Air Act by establishing requirements to ensure consistent, high-quality analyses of benefits and costs are provided to the public for significant rules,” according to the EPA’s press release. The final rule codifies “best practices” for benefit-cost analyses (BCA) in CAA rulemaking. …

Continue Reading

What the EPA’s Reclassification of Information Under Clean Air Act Means

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a prepublication version of a final rule under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that permits major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) to reclassify as sources if the source reduces its potential to emit HAPs below the major source threshold (10 tons per year of any single HAP or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs). In addition, the rule is design to finalize amendments to clarify the compliance dates, notifications, and recordkeeping requirements …

Continue Reading

The Garden State Passes Landmark Environmental Justice Legislation to Protect Overburdened Communities

In the United States, New Jersey has quickly become a leader in tackling environmental justice issues. Earlier this year, the state, which boasts 130 miles of shoreline, became the first to require builders to take climate change and rising sea levels into account to obtain government project bids. The Garden State also pledged it would produce 100 percent clean energy by 2050. On September 18, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy signed one of the most stringent environmental justice bills in the country into law. The overall …

Continue Reading

Trouble in Paradise: Honolulu Brings Climate Change Lawsuit Against Fossil Fuel Companies

Last week, the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii filed a lawsuit against major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, alleging they knew the negative effects their products would cause via climate change but obscured the information from public knowledge in order to reap greater profits. According to the complaint, the fossil fuel companies worsened the climate crisis by undermining climate science and delaying a transition to clean energy.

According to the lawsuit, the fossil fuel companies’ actions have resulted in sea level rise that …

Continue Reading

Clean Air Act Alert: Coalition of Northeastern States Sue EPA over Good Neighbor Violations

Five states and the City of New York filed suit last week against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Southern District of New York alleging the agency failed to protect the states from ozone pollution traveling downwind, in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The coalition of states, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts, and the City of New York, are seeking an order that requires the EPA to create a plan to limit ozone emissions carried into the states from certain upwind states, including Illinois, …

Continue Reading

Environmental Groups Send Notice of Intent Seeking Action on Aircraft Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Three environmental organizations submitted a notice of intent to file suit to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2020 for its failure to act on greenhouse gas emissions from aircrafts. In a joint letter to the EPA’s administrator and director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, the three groups–Center for Biological Diversity, Earth justice, and Friends of the Earth–argue that the EPA’s failure to promulgate standards on greenhouse gas emissions constitutes unreasonable delay under the Clean Air Act. The groups …

Continue Reading

An Exercise in Separation of Powers: Second Circuit Signals Affirmance of Dismissal of NYC Climate Change Lawsuit

“Global warming and solutions thereto must be addressed by the two other branches of government,” said district court judge John Keenan last July in nixing New York City’s climate change nuisance suit that seeks to hold major oil companies liable for global-warming related injuries resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. New York City appealed Judge Keenan’s dismissal to the second circuit, arguing that its action is not an attempt to regulate emissions.

Late last week, hearing New York City’s appeal of Judge Keenan’s dismissal, the second …

Continue Reading