Tuesday, September 21, 2010

EPA Declines Review of Greenhouse Gas Requirements in IEPA Permit

U.S. EPA's Environmental Appeals Board recently issued a decision concerning greenhouse gas requirements of air permits in Illinois. This case involved a petition for review filed by the Sierra Club challenging certain conditions of a prevention of significant deterioration (“PSD”) permit issued by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for construction of a synthetic natural gas manufacturing plant.

The Sierra Club raised several issues, including that the permit failed to regulate greenhouse gases. According to Sierra Club, greenhouse gases constitute "contaminants" causing or contributing to "air pollution" under IEPA rules. However, the Illinois EPA disagreed and made its case that IEPA does not interpret State rules as requiring regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Board deferred to Illinois EPA's interpretation and rejected Sierra Club's argument. Because the IEPA had interpreted the disputed provision of its state SIP as inapplicable to greenhouse gases, and because this interpretation did not appear unreasonable, the Appeals Board declined to substitute its judgment for that of the IEPA and denied review of this issue.

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