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State v. Pruitt

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 7, 2018

STATE OF CONNECTICUT, Plaintiff, SIERRA CLUB and Connecticut FUND FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, Intervenor-Plaintiffs
v.
SCOTT PRUITT and THE UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY “EPA”, Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND MOTION CONCERNING REMEDY

          WARREN W. EGINTON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This action concerns plaintiff State of Connecticut‘s petition to the defendant EPA pursuant to the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) concerning emissions from Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff State of Connecticut and intervenor-plaintiff Connecticut Fund for the Environment seek summary judgment based on defendant EPA and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s failure to act on the petition. Defendants, who admit to liability due to their failure to act, have filed a motion concerning remedy.

         For the following reasons, the Court will grant plaintiff State of Connecticut and intervenor-plaintiff Connecticut Fund for the Environment’s motions for summary judgment, and it will deny defendants’ motion concerning remedy.

         BACKGROUND

         The parties have submitted factual statements that reflect that the following facts are not in dispute.

         The CAA provides that states and downwind political subdivisions can petition the EPA to (1) find that a polluter in an upwind state is causing air quality problems in the downwind state; and (2) require the polluter to reduce its air pollution. 42 U.S.C. § 7426(b).

         On June 1, 2016, Connecticut filed its petition pursuant to Section 126(b) of the CAA for the EPA to make a finding that Brunner Island is emitting air pollutants that significantly contribute to nonattainment or interfere with maintenance of the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality standards in Connecticut.

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 7426(b), the EPA was required to make the requested finding or deny the petition within 60 days, or by July 31, 2016. On July 25, 2016, the EPA announced in the Federal Register that it was granting itself a six-month extension, until January 25, 2017, to take action on the petition. The EPA represented that the additional time was necessary for the EPA to complete its “notice-and-comment rulemaking” and to hold a public hearing on the petition. 81 Fed. Reg. 48,348 (July 25, 2016). However, to date, the EPA has not made the requested finding or denied the petition; it has failed to hold a public hearing or propose a draft petition response for public comment.

         In a letter dated March 9, 2017, plaintiff provided the EPA with notice of its intent to sue. Plaintiff served defendants with the instant complaint on March 22, 2017.

         DISCUSSION

         A motion for summary judgment will be granted where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and it is clear that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “Only when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of the evidence is summary judgment proper.” Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991).

         The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate the absence of any material factual issue genuinely in dispute. Am. Int’l Group, Inc. v. London Am. Int’l Corp., 664 F. 2d 348, 351 (2d Cir. 1981). In determining whether a genuine factual issue exists, the court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         If a nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his case with respect to which he has the burden of proof, then summary judgment is appropriate. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. If the nonmoving party submits evidence which is “merely colorable,” legally sufficient opposition to the motion for summary judgment is not met. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 24.

         The parties do not contest that defendants are required by statute to take action either granting or denying the petition and that the authorized time period for so acting has expired. Thus, liability is not contested, and the parties request the Court to determine the appropriate remedy relevant to the deadlines for the EPA to take action on the petition. Specifically, plaintiff State of Connecticut requests ...


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