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Judges Freeze Texas Haze Proceedings
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Judges Freeze Texas Haze Proceedings


Two judges in two separate courts froze proceedings in litigation over the scope of EPA’s regional haze reduction requirements for Texas. The courts say that until EPA disposes of an administrative petition for reconsideration from environmental groups the proceedings will remain in abeyance.


The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and two other organizations filed the petition in December after EPA produced a final haze plan for the state that differs starkly from the draft released in December 2016.


At the same time, NPCA also brought a lawsuit challenging the plan with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was stayed after requests from both parties said they wanted to let the reconsideration process play out.
EPA was required to complete the haze plan, which is supposed to address pollution from coal-fired power plants in Texas, under a 2012 settlement to a separate lawsuit brought by the parks conservation association in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.


EPA officials are now seeking dismissal of that suit on the grounds that they have satisfied the settlement's terms by issuing a plan. The parks conservation association and other groups counter that the agency illegally ignored public input requirements in crafting the final document and want a U.S. District Judge to order an acceptable replacement within 30 days.


Instead, on March 7 the judge froze proceedings in that case, as well; she ordered the two sides to turn in a joint status report by May 1 if there has been no action by the 5th Circuit or an EPA ruling on the reconsideration petition by that point.

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