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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "Court slaps down IDEM's plan to relax pollution rules at ethanol refineries"

Here is the updated version of Ryan Sabalow's IndyStar story on yesterday's Court of Appeals opinion in Natural Resources Defense Council v. Poet Biorefining-North Manchester, LLC; Poet Biorefining-Cloverdale, LLC; Central Indiana Ethanol, Inc., et al. (more here, 7th case). The long story begins:

A state appeals court on Tuesday struck down Indiana’s decision to unilaterally relax air pollution standards for ethanol plants, which sidestepped federal authority on the issue.

The court said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management improperly changed state rules without seeking approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The state changes came during the administration of then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, who once derided the EPA as the Employment Prevention Agency, and were challenged in court by environmental groups.

Those groups said Tuesday they were troubled that Indiana regulators fought beside industry lawyers to raise pollution limits at each of six plants by 150 tons per year.

“Clearly, IDEM was breaking federal law and siding with in-state polluters over the interests of clean air and citizens in the state,” said John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which challenged IDEM over its rule changes. “It is quite unfortunate that IDEM chose to fight for over five years rather than simply requiring more protective air-pollution limits on these ethanol refineries.”

The effects of the decision remain unclear. IDEM officials didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday, except to say they were consulting their lawyers to determine whether they will ­appeal the ruling. Whether any Indiana plants will be forced to curb emissions also is unclear.

Here is a brief AP story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 1, 2013 10:43 AM
Posted to Environment | Ind. App.Ct. Decisions