Court Rejects Bush Admin's Pollution Rule

Since President Bush took office, he has worked to move environmental decision making away from the states to the federal government. Back in 2007, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson summed up the Bush Administration's philosophy perfectly when he said, "A national solution is better than a confusing patchwork of state rule."

For the sake of consistency, this might sound like a smart approach to environmental regulation, but what happens when the federal government fails to adequately monitor and enforce pollution rules? Without some state authority, no one can plug the holes in the federal government's weak efforts.

Congress emphasized the need for a state-federal partnership in environmental monitoring and regulation when it amended the Clean Air Act in 1990. The amendment granted permitting authority to state and local governments with federal supervision over the process. This change brought efficiency and transparency to a process that had become bogged-down in federal bureaucracy.

In 2006, the EPA approved a rule that prohibited states from supplementing federal pollution monitoring. In other words, the Bush Administration didn't want the holes in their poor monitoring program to be plugged.

Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit claiming that the EPA's new rule would result in a failure to satisfy the monitoring requirements set out in the Clean Air Act. The groups believed that by taking states out of the process, federal monitoring would be inadequate.

Yesterday, a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with the environmental groups and struck down the EPA's monitoring rule. Judge Thomas Griffith wrote the decision in the case and stated that the Clean Air Act, "is a complex statute with a clear objective: it enlists EPA and state and local environmental authorities in a common effort to create a permit program for most stationary sources of air pollution."

The basic message the court sent to the EPA is that if they are going to run insufficient monitoring programs, they cannot prohibit other permitting authorities (i.e. state and local governments) from attempting to supplement those monitoring programs.

To read the full Washington Post article on the decision, click HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment