Summit Petroleum Corp. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 09-4348 (6th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Summit’s natural gas sweetening plant in Michigan makes gas usable by removing hydrogen sulfide. Summit owns all of the production wells and subsurface pipelines that connect wells to the plant. The wells are located over a 43-square-mile area, from 500 feet to eight miles from the plant. Summit does not own property between the wells or property between the wells and the plant. Flares burn off gas waste to relieve pressure on gas collection equipment. The closest flare is about one half-mile from the plant, others are over one mile away. The plant and most of the wells and flares are located on a tribal reservation. All emit sulfur dioxides and nitrous oxides, air pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401-7671q. The plant alone has potential to emit just under 100 tons of these pollutants per year. Each flare and well has potential to emit lower amounts. The EPA determined that the plant, flares, and wells constituted a single stationary source under the CAA. The Sixth Circuit vacated and remanded for determination of whether the plant and wells are sufficiently physically proximate to be considered “adjacent” within the ordinary meaning of that requirement. Interpreting the requirement in terms of mere functional relatedness was unreasonable.