Case Summary Citation
Bahr v. Regan, 6 F.4th 1059 (9th Cir. 2021).
In June 2015, the Lake Fire burned through California’s San Bernardino National Forest. Three hundred miles east of the fire, six air quality monitors exceeded NAAQS in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona’s Department of Environmental Quality petitioned the EPA to exclude those exceedances to avoid stricter regulatory burdens and the need for contingency measures. Applying the Exceptional Events Rule, the EPA permitted the petition to exclude the data therefore allowing Phoenix to successfully demonstrate attainment of the ozone NAAQS by the July 2018 deadline. Petitioner’s sought review of the EPA’s final decision and were denied their petition for review by the Ninth Circuit. Bahr illustrates how regulations dealing with wildfire smoke emissions are misaligned the intent of the Clean Air Act. Though the Ninth Circuit decision properly uses the legal framework, the framework itself neglects current wildfire regimes and mechanisms to mitigate air quality concerns.
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