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EPA Litigation Snapshot: Pivotal Cases See Continued Delays

As the Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues the process of reconsidering Obama-era decisions, we have seen a flurry of EPA-requested stays on ongoing litigation related to rules and decisions from the prior administration. The courts have generally been willing to grant these motions, issuing 60, 90, or 120-day stays for most cases.

We’ve updated the below chart from our previous post to include additional developments on several pivotal cases the EPA has requested to delay:

Case Name

Subject of Litigation




Dalton Trucking Inc. v. EPA, No. 13-74019 (9th Cir.)

California Off-Road Diesel Decision under the CAA

In 2013, the EPA issued a final decision that granted the California Air Resource Board authorization to regulate  in-use fleets that operate certain off-road diesel-fueled vehicles. Petitioners argue that California does not meet the standard under the CAA to set different standards than those set at the federal level.

Motion to continue oral argument filed May 5, 2017


Granted May 10, 2017

90-day stay

Truck Trailer Mfrs. Ass’n, Inc., v. EPA, No. 16-1430 (D.C. Cir.)

Phase II emission standards for medium and heavy duty vehicles under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Energy Policy and Conservation Act

In October 2016, the EPA, along with the National Highway Safety Administration, promulgated a second phase of emission standards for medium and heavy duty engines and vehicles. Petitioners argue that the regulations exceeded the agencies’ authority, are contrary to law, and are arbitrary and capricious.

Motion to continue oral argument filed April 20, 2017


Granted May 8, 2017

90-day stay

West Virginia v. EPA, No. 15-1363 (D.C. Cir.)

Clean Power Plan Rule under the CAA

In 2015, the EPA promulgated a rule using its Clean Air Act authority, informally called the Clean Power Plan. The rule established carbon dioxide emissions guidelines for existing fossil fuel fired electricity generators under Section 111(d) of the CAA. Among other issues, petitioners challenge the EPA’s authority to promulgate the rule.

Motion for abeyance filed March, 28 2017


Granted April 28, 2017

60-day stay

North Dakota v. EPA, No. 15-1381 (D.C. Cir.)

111(b) Rule addressing new, modified, and restructured sources “Carbon Pollution Standards” under the CAA

In 2015, the EPA promulgated a rule regulating carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel fired electricity generators and stationary combustion turbines under Section 111(b) of the CAA. Petitioners argue that the technology that the EPA bases the standards on is not commercially available or feasible. They also argue that the EPA improperly relied on inaccurate demonstrations of the technology in crafting the rule.

Motion for abeyance filed March, 28 2017


Granted April 28, 2017

60-day stay

American Petroleum Institute v. EPA, No. 13-1108 (D.C. Cir.)

New Source Performance Standards under the CAA

In June 2016, the EPA issued a rule limiting methane and other emissions for new oil and natural gas infrastructure. In the current case, the industry groups argue that the EPA doesn’t have CAA authority to regulate methane from oil and gas operations.

Motion for abeyance filed April 7, 2017


Southwestern Electric Power Co. v. EPA, No. 15-60821 (5th Circuit).

Effluent Limitation Guidelines under the Clean Water Act

On April 12, 2017, the EPA announced that it will reconsider its 2015 rule on effluent limitations guidelines, which regulate waste water from power plants under the Clean Water Act. The EPA also announced it will administratively stay future deadlines under the rule.


The current case represents industry groups’ challenge to the EPA, arguing that the EPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Clean Water Act when it promulgated the rule.

Abeyance motion filed April 14, 2017


Granted April 24, 2017

120-day stay

Murray Energy Corp. v. EPA, No. 16-1127 (D.C. Cir.).

Supplemental Finding to the Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Rule under the CAA

In April 2016, the EPA announced a Supplemental Finding that it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate power plants under the CAA even after considering costs associated with the proposed regulations. The finding reinforced its emissions standards under the MATS rule. Murray Energy brought suit challenging the rule’s cost-benefit analysis.

Motion to continue oral argument filed April 18, 2017


Granted April 27, 2017

90-day stay

ARIPPA v. EPA, No. 15-1180 (D.C. Cir.)

MATS Rule under the CAA

This case represents industry groups’ initial challenge of the EPA’s MATS rule. Although industry groups later tried to combine this challenge with the Murray case, the D.C. Circuit kept them separate.

Motion to continue oral argument filed April 18, 2017


Granted April 27, 2017

90-day stay

Walter Coke Inc. v. EPA, No. 15-1166, (D.C. Cir.)

Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) State Implementation Plan (SIP) call under the CAA

In 2015, the EPA issued its SSM SIP Call. The rule required 36 states to amend their SIPs relating to SSM events at power plants and facilities to comply with a revision in policy based on a court decision. Industry organizations and states challenged the EPA action as being not based on a statutory requirement or new rule.

Motion to continue oral argument filed April 18, 2017


Granted April 24, 2017

© 2019 Schiff Hardin LLP


About this Author

Kaitlin C. Straker, Schiff Hardin, Washington D.C., Environmental Practice Lawyer, Litigation

As a first-year associate, Kaitlin C. Straker is working in several practice areas to learn and gain experience before choosing a practice group.

Kaitlin gained valuable experience as a 2015 Schiff Hardin summer associate.

J. Michael Showalter, Litigator, Schiff Hardin LLP

Mike Showalter is a litigator whose practice is focused on resolving complex disputes. Mr. Showalter's past clients span diverse industries including manufacturing, mining, power generation and transmission, oil and gas, the financial and insurance sectors, and process outsourcing.

Mr. Showalter's practice has focused on distilling complicated technical information into a format where it can be understood by decision makers. He has worked with experts in fields including medicine, economics, history, physical sciences, industrial hygiene, toxicology, environmental engineering and risk assessment.