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11th 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 longer existed.

   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 quality of life and is replacing the old standard of the quantity of jobs a polluting industry offers our community.

 

 
     

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