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Air Quality

Air Quality


Message from the Co-Chairs

Welcome to the Air Quality Committee webpage!

The world of air quality regulation and law is changing constantly, and our Committee serves as a network and forum for lawyers interested in this dynamic field. We welcome lawyers, policymakers, and others, with all levels of experience, from across sectors and perspectives. Our goal is to keep members apprised of the latest legal developments through timely and informative communications and programs, and we work with other SEER committees to develop coordinated content highlighting the importance of air quality issues. We welcome your input and encourage you to submit articles for the Committee newsletter; suggest topics for conferences or webinars; send us key agency and court decisions, policy documents, or briefs on air quality issues; and actively participate on our social media pages.

This promises to be an action-packed year for air quality practitioners. The Trump administration has pledged to reshape the air quality legal landscape dramatically, by rolling back the regulatory programs promulgated by the Obama administration, redefining federal and state roles in addressing air pollution, and getting “back to basics” when it comes to enforcing the Clean Air Act. Please check this webpage regularly, as we will highlight significant air quality-related case and regulatory developments. All of the 2017-2018 Committee vice-chairs are listed under the Committee Leadership link on the right side of this webpage. Feel free to reach out to us or the appropriate vice-chair if you have any ideas for programs or publications, other suggestions, or questions.

Thank you for your membership. We look forward to a great year!

Elizabeth & Gary


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What Can Environmental Lawyers Expect from the New Trump Administration and Congress?
Available for Purchase: Non-CLE Webinar
Recorded on February 14, 2017

The year 2017 marks the beginning of what is sure to be a shift in federal environmental law and policy. How the federal government will address climate change, natural resource development, public lands conservation, energy, and countless other environmental and energy issues is more uncertain now than at any time in recent memory. While the objectives and priorities of the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress will likely be different than the objectives of the previous administration, can a sea-change occur overnight? What opportunities and limits exist for overturning existing laws and policies, and for writing and implementing new ones?

Join us for a webinar with our three distinguished panelists, who have written and lectured extensively on the prognosis for federal environmental law and policy over the next few years. Our panelists will offer their thoughts, focusing specifically on the likely fate of recent Obama administration rule and policy changes such as the Clean Power Plan, Public Land Planning 2.0, species mitigation, federal coal leasing, methane regulations for oil and gas. They will also answer questions from audience members.

50 State Survey –A Complimentary Supplement to Chapter 11: The State Response to Climate Change, GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND U.S. LAW, 2ND (Michael B. Gerrard and Jody Freeman, eds)

This comprehensive 602 page survey has been prepared by Kelly Nishikawa, Benjamin Lowenthal and other students at Pace Law School’s Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies, under the oversight of the Associate Director of Environmental Law Programs, Laura Jensen. This very valuable reference document accompanies Global Climate Change and U.S. Law, Second Edition (Michael B. Gerrard and Jody Freeman, eds, 2014), available online at the ABA webstore. It compiles state legislation, rules and executive orders that specifically address climate change as of the end of April 2014. It also includes a wide variety of state activities that may have an impact on greenhouse gases including legislation related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The focus of this material is to provide readers with an understanding of the range of state activity that may contribute to greenhouse gas reduction and climate change. Some types of energy efficiency, alternative fuels and renewable energy legislation (such as tax credits for hybrid vehicles) are very similar from state to state; some laws have a short duration and therefore may not be codified (such as temporary tax credits); energy legislation is being enacted at an increasing pace. As a result, not all energy efficiency, alternative fuels and renewable energy legislation and other activity in every state are included in this compilation.

View the survey >>
Purchase the book >>


Case Summaries



Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, (N.D. Cal. Aug. 31, 2017)
By James L. Simpson, former Assistant Regional Counsel, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Vice-Chair of Electronic Communications

On August 31, 2017, the Northern District of California denied defendant Scott Pruitt’s motion for relief from a consent decree. Pruitt, the EPA Administrator, tried to extend indefinitely a consent decree’s September 29, 2017 deadline. The court denied EPA’s motion and ordered EPA to comply within 90 days of the court’s order.





Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA, (D.C. Cir. Aug. 8, 2017)
By James L. Simpson, former Assistant Regional Counsel, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Vice-Chair of Electronic Communications

In Mexichem Fluor v. EPA, manufacturers of HFC-134a challenged EPA’s 2015 rule which moved certain hydrofluorocarbons, known as HFCs, from the list of safe substitutes for ozone-depleting substances to the prohibited list, under EPA’s significant new alternatives policy (“SNAP”). The companies argued that the 2015 rule exceeded EPA authority under Section 612 of the Clean Air Act. In a split opinion, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated EPA’s 2015 rule, to the extent the rule requires manufacturers to replace HFCs with a substitute substance.





United States of America v. Ameren Missouri (E.D.MO. Jan. 23, 2017)
By James L. Simpson, Assistant Regional Counsel, United States Environmental Protection Agency and Vice-Chair of Programs

On January 23, 2017 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri found Ameren Missouri (“Ameren”) violated the PSD provisions of the Clean Air Act, and its Title V permit, when it undertook major modifications at its Rush Island coal fired power plant without obtaining the requisite permits and installing the best-achievable pollution control technology (“BACT”).





Sierra Club v. Mosier, 391 P.3d 667 (Kansas S. Ct. March 17, 2017)
By Gary Steinbauer (gsteinbauer@babstcalland.com), Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir, P.C., Vice-Chair of Content Convergence

On March 17, 2017, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a decision rejecting the Sierra Club’s second challenge to a Clean Air Act prevention of significant deterioration (“PSD”) permit that the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment (“KDHE”) issued to Sunflower Electric Power Corporation (“Sunflower”). (A video of the oral arguments can be viewed here.) On December 16, 2010, KDHE issued Sunflower a PSD permit to build a new 865-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Garden City, Kansas. The Sierra Club challenged the original 2010 PSD permit, and the Court remanded the permit to KDHE after finding that KDHE failed to include emission limits in the permit that would ensure compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s one-hour nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide national ambient air quality standards (“NAAQS”).





U.S. v. DTE Energy Co. (DTE II), 845 F.3d 735 (6th Cir. 2017)
By Carlos Evans (carlosrevans@gmail.com), Vice Chair of Membership

In U.S. v. DTE Energy Co. (DTE II), 845 F.3d 735 (6th Cir. 2017), the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to DTE. The court concluded that there was a genuine dispute of material fact, precluding summary judgment for DTE, regarding DTE’s compliance with the NSR program’s statutory and regulatory preconstruction requirements.





Nucor Steel-Arkansas v. Pruitt, No. 14-cv-0199, 2017 WL 1239558 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2017).
By Lauran M. Sturm (Lauran.sturm@tn.gov), Co-Chair of the Air Quality Committee

On March 31, 2017, the District Court of the District of Columbia denied the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) motion to dismiss Nucor Steel-Arkansas’ (“Nucor”) complaint asking EPA to respond to a petition to object to a competitor’s prevention of significant deterioration (“PSD”) permit. The court found that Nucor had established Article III standing at the pleading stage by alleging injury from the competitor’s anticipated consumption of PSD increment. (A copy of the opinion can be found at: https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2014cv0199-62)


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Committee Chair(s)

Co-Chairs:

Hurst, Elizabeth
Steinbauer, Gary

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2017-2018 Committee Leadership

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Sites of Interest

Modified by Peter Clark on September 15, 2017

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