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Utility Air Regulatory Group v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States Supreme Court
573 U.S. ___ (2014)


The Clean Air Act (CAA) contained a permitting program that required facilities to get permits if they emitted either 100 and 250 tons or more of conventional pollutants per year, depending on the type of pollutant. Traditionally, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant) had applied the CAA’s permitting requirements only to conventional pollutants and not to greenhouse gases. However, the EPA issued a new rule interpreting the permitting program’s use of the term “pollutant” to include greenhouse gases. The EPA recognized that so many facilities emit 250 tons or more per year of greenhouse gases that the permitting program would be unworkable if the CAA’s statutory threshold amounts applied to greenhouse-gases emissions. Thus, the EPA added a new threshold not found in the CAA, saying the CAA’s permitting program only applied if a facility emitted at least 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year. The EPA believed modifying the CAA threshold requirements was necessary to correctly implement the CAA. The EPA also interpreted the term pollutant in a way that meant facilities already subject to the permitting program now had to monitor greenhouse-gas emissions as well. The Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG) (plaintiff) petitioned the court of appeals for review of the EPA's actions, and the court ruled in the EPA's favor. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine if the EPA's interpretation of the CAA was permissible.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

Concurrence (Alito, J.)

Dissent (Breyer, J.)

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