Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation v. EPA, 540 U.S. 461, 5 (2004)

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Cite as: 540 U. S. 461 (2004)


ting authority has determined BACT arbitrarily. Also unavailing is ADEC's argument that any reasoned justification requirement for a BACT determination may be enforced only through state administrative and judicial processes in order to allow development of an adequate factual record, to ensure EPA carries the burdens of proof, and to promote certainty. The Court declines to read into CAA's silence the unusual requirement that a federal agency's decisions enforcing federal law must be remitted solely to state court. EPA has rationally interpreted the BACT provisions and its own 113(a)(5) and 167 enforcement powers not to require recourse to state processes before stopping a facility's construction. Nor is the Court persuaded by ADEC's practical concerns. There is no reason to conclude that an appropriate record cannot be developed to allow informed federal-court review when EPA disputes a BACT decision's reasonableness. In this very case, the Ninth Circuit ordered EPA to submit a complete administrative record. After EPA did so, all the parties agreed to the record's adequacy. As to the burdens of production and persuasion, the Court holds that EPA bears both burdens in a challenge to an EPA stop-construction order as well as in an EPA-initiated civil action. The underlying question a reviewing court must answer is the same in either case: Was the BACT determination unreasonable given the statutory guides and the state administrative record. Nor does the Court find compelling the suggestion that, if state courts are not the exclusive judicial arbiters, EPA will be free to invalidate a BACT determination months or years after a permit issues. This case involves preconstruction orders issued by EPA, not postconstruction federal directives. EPA itself regards it as imperative to act on a timely basis. Courts are also less likely to require new sources to accept more stringent permit conditions the further planning and construction have progressed. Pp. 488-495. (c) In this case, EPA properly exercised its statutory authority under 113(a)(5) and 167 in finding that ADEC's acceptance of Low NOx as BACT for MG-17 lacked evidentiary support. EPA's orders, therefore, were neither arbitrary nor capricious. Pp. 496-502. (1) The Court considers whether EPA's finding was "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law" under the applicable review standard set forth in the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U. S. C. 706(2)(A). While EPA's three skeletal orders were not composed with ideal clarity, they properly ground EPA's BACT determination when read together with EPA's accompanying explanatory correspondence. See Bowman Transp., Inc. v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., 419 U. S. 281, 286. As the Ninth Circuit determined, EPA validly issued stop orders because ADEC's BACT designation did not qualify as reasonable in light of statutory guides. In


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