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Coalition for Clean Air v. Environmental Protection Agency

971 F.2d 219 (1992)

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Coalition for Clean Air v. Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

971 F.2d 219 (1992)

Facts

The air quality of California’s South Coast Air Basin was one of the worst in the country. The South Coast did not have implementation plans for ozone and carbon monoxide. Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), if a state lacked state implementation plans (SIPs) to attain national air quality standards, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had an obligation to promulgate federal implementation plans (FIPs). In 1988, California proposed SIPs for the South Coast, but the EPA found them inadequate and disapproved the South Coast SIPs. After the EPA’s disapproval of the SIPs, Coalition for Clean Air and the Sierra Club (Coalition) (plaintiffs) filed a citizen’s suit in district court to enforce the EPA’s obligations to promulgate FIPs for the South Coast. In 1989, the EPA entered into an agreement with California that required the EPA to promulgate FIPs for the South Coast. At the same time, Congress began to consider new amendments to the CAA. The EPA sought relief from Congress from its obligation to promulgate FIPs. Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 but retained the EPA’s obligations to promulgate a FIP whenever it disapproves a SIP. In 1991, the EPA filed a motion asking the district court to vacate the settlement agreement between the EPA and California based on the 1990 Amendments. The EPA argued that by including new criteria and timetables for attainment in the 1990 Amendments, Congress could not have intended to continue the EPA’s obligation to promulgate FIPs for the South Coast. The EPA believed its mandatory obligation to promulgate FIPs for South Coast would be triggered only if California failed to submit adequate SIPs under the new deadlines. Coalition argued that because the EPA disapproved California’s proposed SIPs in 1988, the EPA was obligated to promulgate FIPs for the South Coast. The district court vacated the settlement agreement, finding that requiring the EPA to promulgate FIPs for the South Coast would be inconsistent with the 1990 Amendments because of the new deadlines and requirements. Coalition appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Norris, J.)

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