Circuit Court Dismisses Air Case
In partnership with
the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF), the GEC filed a
petition with the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) in
January 2003 to enforce the law requiring the health impacts from all
permitted toxic air releases be considered when issuing air permits. The
EPA answered our complaint in late April 2004 but did not make a
determination, and Hercules and the Georgia Environmental Protection
Division (GA-EPD) intervened in the case.
The EPA agreed the
law was enforceable but denied the GEC petition and an
appeal was filed June 2005 in the 11th
Circuit Court of Appeals. Instead of enforcing the law, in early 2006, the
EPA removed the law and requested the case be
dismissed as moot since the law under which we brought our case no
The GEC filed an
objection to the request to dismiss the case since the EPA had agreed that
the law was enforceable 1˝ years earlier. Also, the EPA had engaged in
retroactive rulemaking by removing the law after they already made a
determination that the law was enforceable.
The air case was
dismissed by the 11th
Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2006 without comment. In other words,
the Court did not explain their reasoning for dismissing the case or comment
on the merits of the GEC argument that the EPA had changed the law and
applied it retroactively.
Victory in the Air Case Loss
The air case did result
in the EPA looking at air pollution in Brunswick, and in particular, from
the Hercules Plant. While the GEC air case proceeded through the
years, polluting processes were shut down, and air quality has improved.
While the legal victory was denied, the goal is being achieved.
Brunswick’s Economic Prosperity and Clean Air
The link between clean
air and economic prosperity has come front and center as an issue in
Brunswick. Multi-million dollar projects like Liberty Harbor depend on
marketing the quality of life in Brunswick. Investors and visitors greeted
by pungent, nauseating odors, and asthma attacks are now considered
significant setbacks to the future of the Brunswick Peninsula. The economic
future of Brunswick is increasingly tied to the
of life and is replacing the old standard of the
of jobs a polluting industry offers our community.