WASHINGTON – In a victory for environmental groups, a federal appeals court rejected two Environmental Protection Agency regulations that loosened requirements for achieving compliance with more protective ozone standards.
In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said EPA cannot increase the amount of compliance time by an additional year and cannot revoke ozone requirements for highway projects.
The court said the two EPA regulations implementing the 2008 ozone standards exceed the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.
Writing for the majority, appeals judge Sri Srinivasan said the EPA’s action was untethered to Congress’s approach. In addition, Srinivasan wrote, EPA identifies no provision under the Clean Air Act specifically authorizing revocation of the highway requirements. Srinivasan, a nominee of President Barack Obama, was joined by judge David Tatel, a nominee of President Bill Clinton.
In dissent, appeals judge A. Raymond Randolph said the court’s decision and its reasoning “are, I believe, mistaken” and that EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act is permissible.
The Natural Resources Defence Council brought the challenges to the EPA’s regulations.