United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO MODIFY JUDGMENT Re: Dkt. No. 90
YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS, District Judge.
Plaintiffs WildEarth Guardians, et al., have filed a motion (Dkt. No. 90, Motion to Modify Judgment) seeking to modify this Court's orders granting summary judgment in their favor (Dkt. No. 64 and 69) under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant Gina McCarthy, in her official capacity as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") opposes the motion. The motion came on regularly for hearing on October 14, 2014.
Having carefully considered the papers submitted and the pleadings in this action, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby DENIES the Motion.
Plaintiffs seek to modify this Court's prior final orders to, in essence, reiterate the requirements stated therein. By way of background, EPA promulgated a National Ambient Air Quality Standard ("NAAQS") for ozone on March 12, 2008. 73 Fed. Reg. 16436 (Mar. 27, 2008). Under certain provisions of the Clean Air Act, all states were required to submit the listed elements of State Implementation Plans ("SIPs") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 7410(a)(2), or Infrastructure SIPs, for the 2008 ozone NAAQS by March 12, 2011. 42 U.S.C. § 7410(a)(1). For states that failed to meet that deadline, EPA was required to issue a notice of failure to submit by the September 12, 2011. As this Court previously found, and EPA failed to meet that deadline, in violation of its mandatory duty. The Court also found that, for certain states which submitted an Infrastructure SIP after the deadline, EPA had failed to take final action by approving in full, disapproving in full, or approving in part and disapproving in part, within the time required by statute. 42 U.S.C. § 7410(k)(2) and (3).
This Court's prior orders required EPA to issue findings that certain states had failed to submit Infrastructure SIPs for the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard by no later than January 4, 2013. (Dkt. No. 64 and 69.)
On January 4, 2013, pursuant to this Court's order, EPA issued a finding that numerous states had failed to submit 2008 ozone Infrastructure SIPs except as to the Good Neighbor provisions found in 42 U.S.C. § 7410(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). 78 Fed. Reg. 2, 882 (Jan. 15, 2013). The EPA declined to make findings of failure to submit on the Good Neighbor provisions in reliance on its interpretation of the D.C. Circuit's decision in EME Homer City Generation v. EPA, 696 F.3d 7, 31 (D.C. Cir. 2012), concluding that "a SIP cannot be deemed to lack a required submission or deemed deficient for failure to meet the 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) obligation until after the EPA quantifies that obligation." 78 Fed. Reg. at 2, 884.
Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, along with the states of Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and the District of Columbia appealed these administrative findings by a petition to the D.C. Circuit. See Maryland v. EPA, 13-1070 (consolidated with No. 13-1072). While that appeal was pending, the Supreme Court reversed Homer City decision on which EPA had relied. See EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., 574 U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 1584 (2014). The Supreme Court held the plain language of the Clean Air Act mandated that states submit Good Neighbor provisions within three years of EPA promulgating a NAAQS, and that EPA need not undertake any action to trigger this obligation. Homer City, 134 S.Ct. at 1600. In light of the Homer City opinion, on August 1, 2014, the D.C. Circuit vacated EPA's January 4, 2013 decision that it need not address the Good Neighbor provisions and remanded the matter to EPA for further consideration. See Maryland v. EPA, 13-1070 (D.C. Cir. Aug 1, 2014) Order [Document#1505606] at 1. According to plaintiffs, EPA has thus far failed to take any action subsequent to that remand.
Plaintiffs argue that EPA was ordered to comply with a mandatory duty under the Clean Air Act, but its action in compliance was later vacated by a court so that EPA once again has an unfulfilled mandatory duty. In other words, Plaintiffs contend, the D.C. Circuit's vacatur of EPA's January 4, 2013 action with respect to the 2008 ozone NAAQS Good Neighbor provisions means that the status quo prior to that action is restored, and Plaintiffs' claim that EPA has failed to undertake a mandatory duty is revived. Notably, Plaintiffs' motion specifies that they are not asking the Court to hold the EPA Administrator in contempt for violating the Court's orders or seeking enforcement of the orders, but rather that they are seeking to modify those orders in light of the change in circumstances, i.e., the vacatur. Plaintiffs contend that Rule 60(b) permits amendment of the Court's prior orders in this manner.
Rule 60(b) provides:
On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for ...