Friday, November 1, 2013

Sierra Club v. Costle case brief

Sierra Club v. Costle case brief summary
657 F.2d 298 (1981)

Petitioners, Sierra Club, California Air Resources Board (environmental groups), and electric utilities, sought judicial review of standards promulgated by the respondent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act (Act), 42 U.S.C.S. § 7401 et seq., requiring a variable reduction of emissions for new coal-fired electric power plants, and the EPA's denial of requests for reconsideration of the final standards.

The EPA revised the performance standards governing emissions control of new coal-burning power plants. The environmental groups sought judicial review claiming that the EPA exceeded its scope of authority under the Act and that the variable controls were too lax. The utilities claimed that the controls were too rigorous and that the procedure did not provide sufficient notice for an adversarial hearing.

  • The court held (1) that 42 U.S.C.S. § 7411(b)(6) did not prohibit a sliding scale for the reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions, 
  • (2) that the EPA carefully analyzed the kinds of technology that could be used in reducing emissions, considered public comments, identified critical parameters, and revised its model, 
  • (3) that the EPA had authority to encourage technological innovation, 
  • (4) that there were no due process violations because the variable standard was known to be a serious possibility from the start, and the public had actual notice and an adequate explanation of the changes in the basis of the final rule, 
  • (5) that the docketing and consideration of post-comment documents and the intra-Executive Branch meetings did not violate due process.


The EPA's decision to impose a revised variable standard for emissions control of new coal-fired electric power plants was affirmed as reasonable.

Recommended Supplements for Administrative Law Examples & Explanations: Administrative Law, Fourth Edition
Administrative Law and Process: In a Nutshell (Nutshell Series)

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