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Sierra Club, Case Study Example

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Case Study

The name of this case is Sierra Club, et al., v. Environmental Protection Agency and Gina McCarthy, Administration, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Respondents (Sierra Club, et al., v. Environmental Protection Agency and Gina McCarthy, Administration, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Respondents, 557 F.3d 401, 40). The date of the decision occurred on May 6, 2014 and it was decided on June 13, 2014 and was heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Court.

The plaintiffs argued that the “Next Steps for Pending Redesignation Requests and State Implementation Plan Actions Affected by the Recent Court Decision Vacating the 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule” memorandum issued by the Environmental Protection Agency was unconstitutional. The defendants argued that this rule requires “a notice-and-comment rulemaking process” and “is arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law in allowing regions to rely on temporary emissions reductions from CAIR rather than demonstrating “permanent and enforceable” reductions”.

This particular case appeared before the Supreme Court because this court deals with dissents that the plaintiffs hold against the federal government, which in this case is a government program. The court is being asked to decide whether the Environmental Agency’s Memorandum is arbitrary.  In this situation, the constitutional provision under review is the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 7410(a)(1).

The Supreme Court decided to dismiss the petition for review due to the plaintiff’s inability to demonstrate that sufficient injury was sustained as a consequence of the Memorandum. Thus, the court decided that they were not within the appropriate jurisdiction to head the plaintiff’s challenges against the Clean Air Act. It is essential to consider the decision of the provision of environmental health services programs because it demonstrates that when government environmental agencies establish policies, the policies cannot be overturned due to expected damages. In a situation in which no damages have been proven, the Clean Air Act, in additional to other government environmental policies, will be carried out. In the end, the court instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to “administer CAIR pending the promulgation of a valid replacement”. The dissenting opinion was presented by J. Rogers who stated that is important for a SIP to provide “adequate provisions” that prevent the legality of emissions activity that occur within the state to interfere with the environmental quality of every other state. This statement is based on the good-neighbor provision. However, all of the other judges voted in contradiction of this opinion.

As an environmental health professional, I believe that this case will establish a precedent that the industry should wait to fight against government established policies after damages have occurred. Ultimately, this requires proof for such situations. This case demonstrates that the judicial branch and legislative branch had a checks and balances system that is effective; the judicial branch is able to overturn legislative policies if they are deemed to be unconstitutional. Ultimately, the Environmental Protection Agency’s code demonstrates that emission reductions will allow pending state submissions to proceed under a rule that the court had previously validated but left in effect. This case redefined the role of the Supreme Court in this specific case. While it is an interstate issue, the plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate that the Environmental Protection Agency caused damages to their company. Therefore, cases of this sort will not be seen by the Supreme Court in the future.

References

Sierra Club, et al., v. Environmental Protection Agency and Gina McCarthy, Administration,  United States Environmental Protection Agency, Respondents, 557 F.3d 401, 40.

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