Environmental groups in Washington state may not like greenhouse gas emissions from five state oil refineries, but that doesn’t mean they can sue the state to force clean-up efforts.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the Sierra Club in the state and Washington Environmental Council doesn’t have standing to bring a citizen suit to compel state agencies to regulate emissions from five oil refineries.
The appeal court ordered the case dismissed.
The groups sued the state arguing the agencies failed to define emission limits, or “reasonably available control technology” RACT, for greenhouse gases and apply limits to oil refineries. The lawsuit alleged the failure violated state clean air act plans ant RACT standards.
The refinery emissions, in 2008, were found to represent nearly 6 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in Washington.
The district judge sided with the environmentalists and ordered the state to complete the RACT process for refineries by May 2014.
Western States Petroleum Association, whose members include refineries, intervened on behalf of the state and argued the groups lacked standing to sue.
The 9th Circuit agreed. “Plaintiffs offer only vague, conclusory statements that the agencies’ failure to set RACT standards at the oil refineries contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn, contribute to climate-related changes that result in their purported injuries,” the court states. That is not enough.
“We vacate the district court’s order on the parties… and remand with instructions that the action be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,” wrote Judge Milan D. Smith.
Case: Washington Environmental Council, No. 12-35324