Special Topics in Environmental Management

EPA Must Evaluate Job Losses, Says Judge

A U.S. district court judge in West Virginia has ordered the EPA to meet the requirement in Section 321(a) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which states that the Agency “shall conduct continuing evaluations of potential shifts in employment” and “threatened plant closures and reductions in employment” resulting from “administration or enforcement” of the Act. According to Judge John Preston Bailey, the language of the section, particularly the words “shall” and “continuing” imposes on the EPA a nondiscretionary obligation to both conduct such evaluations and to do so within a certain time frame.

The case originated in March 2014 when coal mining giant Murray Energy, joined by some of its subsidiary and affiliated companies, filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The plaintiffs contended that EPA’s refusal to evaluate the impact its rules are having on the American coal industry and the hundreds of thousands of people it directly or indirectly employs is irreparably harming the plaintiffs.

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