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Source & Scope of Public Health Legal Powers

Sierra Club v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Overview

Sierra Club v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, August 27, 2020) – The court found that EPA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when approving Pennsylvania’s ozone compliance plan principally because the plan was not based on any supporting science and lacked a reporting requirement. Some Pennsylvania municipalities struggled to comply with EPA’s 2008 ozone protection requirements, so the Commonwealth submitted a new plan that would allow increased pollution from power plants under certain circumstances. However, no basis was provided for why the proposed circumstances justified permitting increased pollution. Moreover, compliance with the plan focused on an honor code, with no actual reporting requirements. An administrative agency is not entitled to a “blank check” of deference and the utter lack of basis for the EPA approval of the Pennsylvania plan eliminated any deference in this case. Read the full opinion here.  

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – October 15, 2020.

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