On July 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided the case of Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA. Senior Judge Sentelle, writing for a unanimous panel, mostly granted the environmental petitioners petition for review of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Act (CAA) rule, establishing National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) hazardous air pollutant emissions limits for Brick and Structural Clay Products Manufacturing and Clay Ceramics Manufacturing. These rules were initially promulgated in 2003, only to be vacated later by the D.C. Circuit.
In 2014, EPA proposed a replacement rule that was promulgated in 2015 and partially reconsidered in 2016. Agreeing with the environmental petitioners, the Court of Appeals holds that EPA failed to establish a sufficient administrative record to support some of its key findings, or failed to adhere to the relevant CAA statutory provisions. On the other hand, the industry petitioners were only partly successful in their arguments against the new rules. The matter was again remanded to EPA for additional work on the rule, whose rulemaking proceedings have engaged the agency for over 15 years.