Helping Hand Tools v. EPA, No. 14-72553 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Helping Hand and the Center petition for review of the EPA's final decision granting Sierra Pacific a prevent of significant deterioration (PSD) permit for construction of a new biomass-burning power plant at its lumber mill in California. Because EPA properly took the requisite hard look at Sierra Pacific’s proposed design and the key purpose of burning its own biomass waste, the court held that EPA reasonably concluded that consideration of solar or increased natural gas would disrupt that purpose and redefine the source. Therefore, the EPA did not act arbitrarily or capriciously and Helping Hand’s petition is denied. Because EPA was largely relying on its own guidance, acting at the frontiers of science, the court deferred to the agency’s determination regarding the supplemental greenhouse best available control technology (BACT) analysis. In this case, Sierra Pacific’s application went through an extensive process to issue a reasoned PSD permit for its new biomass burning boiler. EPA properly defined the project and rejected control technologies that redefined the project with thoughtful and reasonable explanations. The Bioenergy BACT Guidance EPA applied to the greenhouse gas emissions from Sierra Pacific’s new facility is rational and thoroughly consistent with EPA’s prior guidance.