United States Sugar Corp. v. Environmental Protection Agency

830 F.3d 579 (2016)

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United States Sugar Corp. v. Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
830 F.3d 579 (2016)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Pursuant to the Clean Air Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant) promulgated three regulations that set limits on emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) as to (1) major boilers, (2) area boilers, and (3) commercial/industrial solid-waste incinerators. The EPA was required to establish emission standards for listed pollutants from a source category, such as major boilers, based on what the best performing similar sources achieved. The standard was known as the maximum achievable control technology, or MACT floor, for a specified pollutant. In setting MACT floors, the EPA often could not identify a single unit that controlled all HAPs better than other units in the subcategory. Instead, the EPA sometimes found that a unit might rank the best in its subcategory at controlling emissions of one HAP but might be the worst at controlling a different HAP. The EPA adopted a “pollutant-by-pollutant” approach, selecting one unit to set the MACT floor for a specified pollutant and a different unit to set the MACT floor for a different pollutant. The EPA could also set more lenient health-based emission standards if there was an established health threshold. As to major boilers, the EPA declined to adopt an alternative threshold for hydrogen chloride (HCl) even though there was an established health threshold for HCl. The EPA’s reasoning for the decision was based on unknown cumulative effects from HCl emissions. Finally, the EPA declined to set more restrictive standards (“beyond-the-floor” standards) for commercial incinerators after considering the costs and benefits of additional measures. Various parties (plaintiffs) challenged the EPA’s rules and petitioned for review. The petitions were consolidated by the court of appeals.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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