Advocates’Push for Quicker Aircraft Rules Premature, EPA Says

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By Anthony Adragna

Aug. 23 — Environmental advocates prematurely filed a lawsuit seeking a firm deadline for aircraft emissions rules to be issued and it should now be dismissed, the Environmental Protection Agency argued in a motion ( Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. EPA, D.D.C., No. 16-cv-681, motion filed 8/19/16 ).

The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth first filed their lawsuit in April, but the EPA argued no mandatory duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft existed until July 25, when it issued a final determination under Section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act that emissions from aircraft endanger human health and the environment.

There is no “plausible unreasonable delay claim” under the Clean Air Act, the agency said, noting it has been “just a few weeks” since that final determination came out.

“Plaintiffs cannot pursue an unreasonable delay claim based on a duty that had not been triggered at the time they filed suit, and that even now has existed, at most, for just a few weeks,” said the motion, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Aug. 19. “EPA had no duty to propose and issue aircraft greenhouse gas emission standards when plaintiffs filed their claim alleging EPA had unreasonably delayed in discharging that duty.”

The motion goes on to say the environmental advocates “arbitrarily” measure the agency’s delay from the date in 2007 they first filed a petition for the agency to commence the regulatory process for aircraft. But “alleging that EPA has failed to take action that plaintiffs view as desirable, at the time they would have liked” cannot form the basis of an unreasonable delay claim, the agency said.

Case Narrowed in August

Those environmental groups agreed to narrow the scope of the lawsuit on Aug. 5 following the promulgation of the endangerment finding (81 Fed. Reg. 54,422), but argued the agency should still be required to issue a proposed rule curbing greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft within 30 days.

The EPA has not outlined a time frame for proposing rules on aircraft emissions. In its motion, the agency said it “anticipates indicating an expected timeline” for a proposed rule in an upcoming regulatory agenda.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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