Issue Date: August 20, 2012
Texas Wins Round In Fight With EPA
A federal appeals court ruled on Aug. 13 that EPA violated the Clean Air Act in 2010 when it rejected a Texas program for combating air pollution. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, struck down EPA’s disapproval of the state’s flexible permits program and ordered the agency to reconsider its decision. In place since 1994, the state program allows companies to lump together emissions from multiple units under a single cap rather than setting specific emission limits for each source of pollution at a facility. About 140 refineries and petrochemical plants in Texas had received permits under the regulatory scheme. In rejecting the program, EPA argued that the methodology for calculating the emissions cap was unclear and the record-keeping requirements were inadequate. But the circuit court judges ruled that EPA exceeded its statutory authority in disallowing the Texas program and that its grounds for doing so were insufficient and arbitrary. EPA says it has not decided whether to seek a rehearing.
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