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Public Citizen, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

343 F.3d 449 (2003)

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Public Citizen, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

343 F.3d 449 (2003)

Facts

In 1990, Congress enacted Title V for the Clean Air Act (CAA). Title V required major stationary sources of air pollution to obtain operating permits incorporating CAA requirements. Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant) to promulgate regulations providing minimum requirements for a Title V operating permit program. States were required to develop, and seek EPA approval, for a Title V operating permit program. If a state was not eligible for full approval, but substantially met the minimum requirements, the EPA was authorized to grant interim approval. After approving a state’s Title V permit program, the EPA was required to provide a notice of deficiency (NOD) if the state was not adequately enforcing or administering its program. The EPA committed to responding to public comments regarding deficiencies in state programs and either issued an NOD or explained why it declined to do so. In 1993, Texas submitted its Title V program to the EPA for approval. The EPA identified numerous deficiencies in Texas’s application, so in 1996, the EPA granted Texas interim approval. Texas submitted program revisions, but new deficiencies had arisen since they were granted interim approval. The EPA invited public comments about Texas’s program, and Public Citizen, Inc., and others (PCI) (plaintiff) submitted comments objecting to full approval because Texas had not corrected the new deficiencies. Even though the new deficiencies were not addressed in Texas’s revisions, the EPA found that Texas’s revisions satisfactorily addressed the issues identified at the time of interim approval and granted Texas full approval in 2001. The EPA stated that it would respond to the other deficiencies not identified at the time of interim approval in a separate administrative proceeding. PCI argued that the EPA had no authority to grant Texas’s permit program full approval without finding that the program satisfied Title V requirements.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Barksdale, J.)

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