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Supreme Court Grants Stay of USEPA Plan to Enforce Clean Air Act’s Good Neighbor Provision in Ohio v. EPA

By Brooke Zentmeyer

On June 27, 2024, the Supreme Court issued a final decision in Ohio v. EPA and granted the stay of a USEPA plan designed to require several States, including Ohio, to comply with the “Good Neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act. The decision was 5-4 in favor of the stay with Justice Gorsuch writing for the majority (joined by Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Roberts), and Justice Barrett dissenting (joined by Justices Jackson, Sotomayor, and Kagan).

The Good Neighbor provision requires States to include in their State Implementation Plans (SIPs) regulations that prohibit emissions in amounts that will contribute significantly to non-attainment or interfere with maintenance in other States. If USEPA finds that a State’s SIP fails to satisfy any of the requirements of the Clean Air Act, such as the Good Neighbor provision, USEPA may issue a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP). USEPA determined that 23 States failed to submit SIPs that complied with the Good Neighbor provision, and announced a FIP that applied to all 23 States. USEPA designed its FIP to improve downwind ozone air quality by reducing nitrogen oxide emissions and achieve “maximum cost effectiveness” based on an analysis that assumed the FIP would apply to all covered States. Courts stayed 12 of the SIP disapprovals, however, which rendered USEPA’s FIP inapplicable to those States. States remaining subject to the FIP, including Ohio, challenged the FIP and applied for a stay of the FIP’s enforcement. The remaining States objected to USEPA’s decision to apply the FIP to them after so many other States had dropped out, arguing that USEPA did not explain how its cost-effectiveness analysis was still valid if less than 23 States were in the FIP.

In its final decision, the majority stated that “[b]ecause each side has strong arguments about the harms they face and equities involved, our resolution of these stay requests ultimately turns on the merits and the question who is likely to prevail at the end of this litigation.” Thus, finding that the stay applicants are “likely to prevail on their argument,” the Court ruled in their favor and granted the stay.


Tags: Clean Air Act, Ohio, EPA, U.S. Supreme Court

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