Saturday, May 4, 2013

United States v. Duke Energy Group case brief

United States v. Duke Energy Group case brief
411 F.3d 539 (4th Cir. 2005)
CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff, the U.S., brought an enforcement action against defendant, an energy corporation that provided two states with electricity generated from eight power plants, maintaining that defendant had violated the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C.S. 7401 et seq., by modifying the plants without obtaining proper permits. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina granted summary judgment for defendant. The U.S. appealed.

FACTS: The U.S. maintained that defendant's projects violated the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) provisions of the CAA, 42 U.S.C.S. §§ 7470-92, because they constituted "major modifications" of the power plants' furnaces, and thus defendant had to obtain permits for them. Defendant contended that its projects did not constitute modifications subject to the PSD, and thus no permits were necessary. Congress had expressly defined "modification" in the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) provisions of the CAA, 42 U.S.C.S. § 7411(a), and then expressly directed, in 42 U.S.C.S. 7479(2)(c), that the PSD provisions employ the same definition. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) interpreted its PSD regulations differently, however, excluding a much smaller group of projects from the definition of "major modification." Because Congress mandated that the PSD definition of "modification" be identical to the NSPS definition of "modification," the EPA was precluded from interpreting "modification" under the PSD inconsistently with the way it interpreted that term under the NSPS. Under the proper interpretation of "modification," defendant's projects did not require permits.

CONCLUSION: The summary judgment in favor of defendant was affirmed.

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