ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY v. EME HOMER CITY GENERATION

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
12-1182
Petitioner 
Environmental Protection Agency, et al.
Respondent 
EME Homer City Generation, L.P., et al.
Consolidation 
12-1183, American Lung Association, et al., Petitioners v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., et al.
Decided By 
Advocates
(Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States)
(Texas Solicitor General, for the state and local respondents)
(for the industry and labor respondents)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The Clean Air Act creates a federal-state partnership that aims to control air pollution in the United States. The Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to both establish air quality standards and gives the states significant freedom to implement plans in order to meet those standards. Among the problems the Act sought to prevent was the possible spread of air pollution from “upwind” states to “downwind” states.

In 2011, the EPA created the Transport Rule, a rule which sets emission reduction standards for 28 “upwind” states based on the air quality standards in “downwind” states. Various states, local governments, industry groups, and labor organizations brought suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and argued that the Transport Rule created federal standards with no deference to the states, which violated federal law. The court held that the Transport Rule violated federal law because the Clean Air Act allows states to implement their own plans to curb air pollution.

Question 

1. Did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit have jurisdiction to hear this case?

2. Did the Court of Appeals correctly interpret the statutory language in the Clean Air Act when it reviewed the EPA’s actions?

3. Is an upwind state free from any obligations under the Transport Rule until the EPA has quantified that state’s contribution to downwind states’ air pollution?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for EPA, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Good Neighbor Provision

Yes, no, no. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the opinion for the 6-2 majority. The Court held that the Clean Air Act supports the EPA’s contention that if a state implementation plan (SIP) is determined to be insufficient, then the EPA has an absolute mandate to create and enforce a federal implementation plan (FIP) at any point within the next two years unless the state revises the SIP in question. Nothing in the Act required the EPA to provide states with specific metrics regarding upwind states’ contributions to the pollution of downwind states, especially since this schedule could prolong the process by instituting a delay that Congress did not order in the Act. The Court held that the Transport Rule was necessary for the EPA to fulfill its statutory requirement to balance the possibility of under- and over-control of emissions standards. The Court also held that there was no jurisdictional bar to the Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court hearing the case.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas arguing that the majority opinion failed to rely on a textual justification for its holdings. Instead, the majority opinion reached the logically inconsistent conclusion that the EPA did not have to provide states with information regarding emission standards before states were required to implement plans that conformed to those standards.

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. did not participate in the discussion or decision of this case.

[In the initially published opinion, Justice Scalia's dissent cited a Supreme Court case dealing with the EPA, Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, Inc., as an example of a case that had denied the EPA the ability to expand its mandate. However, the case actually had to do with the EPA defending its more limited mandate, and the majority sided with the EPA. Additionally, Justice Scalia was the author of the opinion he mischaracterized. The Supreme Court then issued a corrected version of Justice Scalia's dissent that removed the incorrect reference.]

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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY v. EME HOMER CITY GENERATION. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 19 June 2014. <http://holmes.oyez.org/node/86862>.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY v. EME HOMER CITY GENERATION, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://holmes.oyez.org/node/86862 (last visited June 19, 2014).
"ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY v. EME HOMER CITY GENERATION," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 19, 2014, http://holmes.oyez.org/node/86862.