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State must seek EPA approval before reclassifying ethanol plants

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Even though the Environmental Protection Agency changed a rule to exclude ethanol plants from the category of chemical process plants which would affect emissions permitting, Indiana had to seek approval from the federal agency before it could reclassify the ethanol production facilities.

In 2010, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued permits to some fuel-grade ethanol production facilities which did not categorize them as “chemical process plants,” as had been the case in the past. Those that fall under the chemical process plant category are permitted to emit only 100 tons of certain air pollutants a year. Other facilities not under that category may emit up to 250 tons of certain air pollutants a year.

The Natural Resources Defense Council challenged the reclassification, which led IDEM’s Office of Environmental Adjudication to find the plants should have been considered under the chemical process plants category. But the Marion Superior Court reversed.

The issue before the Indiana Court of Appeals is whether the state could properly exclude fuel-grade ethanol plants from this category without EPA approval of a modification of the Indiana State Implementation Plan.

The last EPA-approved SIP from 2001 includes these plants as chemical process plants. In 2007, the EPA promulgated a final rule excluding the ethanol plants from the definition of “chemical process plant.” Indiana never sought approval from the EPA to change its SIP but did enact a new law and administrative rule making the modifications.

“As the EPA rule change was more than a mere ‘clarification,’ Indiana was obliged to seek approval of an amendment to its SIP. Because it did not, the OEA was correct that the facilities were chemical process plants pursuant to the Indiana SIP and permits allowing pollutant emissions at the 250 ton-per-year level should not have been issued absent an EPA-approved change in the Indiana SIP,” Judge Melissa May wrote in Natural Resources Defense Council v. Poet Biorefining-North Manchester, LLC; Poet Biorefining-Cloverdale, LLC; Central Indiana Ethanol, Inc., et al., 49A02-1205-MI-423.

“Even if the failure to amend Indiana SIP could be disregarded, as the appellees suggest, IDEM’s past consistent treatment of fuel ethanol plants as chemical process plants would dictate the result we reach,” she continued. “Because IDEM had, in its prior permitting decisions, given the term ‘chemical process plant’ a ‘definitive interpretation, and later significantly revise[d] that interpretation,’ it was obliged to seek EPA approval for an amended SIP.”

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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