In 2010, Earthjustice petitioned EPA to create new source performance standards under the Clean Air Act that would regulate air emissions from coal mines. EPA denied that petition on April 30, 2013, stating that it lacked the resources necessary to address the petition, and intended instead to focus its efforts on larger sources of air emissions. Earthjustice and other groups appealed EPA’s decision not to set these standards to federal court in the District of Columbia.
On May 13, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that EPA’s decision to decline to further regulate coal mines was reasonable in light of the EPA’s current budgetary and staff constraints and numerous other pending rulemakings under the Clean Air Act. WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. EPA, 751 F.3d 649. The court also noted that EPA’s decision not to promulgate the standards at this time did not foreclose EPA from later revisiting the issues and promulgating standards at a later time. Wild Earth Guardians referenced EPA’s decision not to establish new source performance standards for coal mines as one of the reasons OSM should act to set its own standards for NOx emissions in its recent petition also covered in this issue of the Air Quality Letter.