Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation v. EPA, 540 U.S. 461, 35 (2004)

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

Opinion of the Court

taken the same path had EPA initiated a civil action pursuant to 113(a)(5)(C), or if the suit under consideration had been filed initially in state court.

Nor do we find compelling ADEC's suggestion, reiterated by the dissent, that, if state courts are not the exclusive judicial arbiters, EPA would be free to invalidate a BACT determination "months, even years, after a permit has been issued." Brief for Petitioner 35; post, at 512-514. This case threatens no such development. It involves preconstruction orders issued by EPA, see supra, at 481, not postconstruction federal Agency directives. EPA itself regards it as "imperative" to act on a timely basis, recognizing that courts are "less likely to require new sources to accept more stringent permit conditions the farther planning and construction have progressed." App. 273 (July 15, 1988, EPA guidance memorandum). In the one instance of untimely EPA action ADEC identifies, the federal courts declined to permit enforcement to proceed. See United States v. AM General Corp., 34 F. 3d 472, 475 (CA7 1994) (affirming District Court's dismissal of an EPA-initiated enforcement action where EPA did not act until well after the facility received a PSD permit and completed plant modifications). EPA, we are confident, could not indulge in the inequitable conduct ADEC and the dissent hypothesize while the federal courts sit to review EPA's actions. Cf. Walz v. Tax Comm'n of City of New York, 397 U. S. 664, 678-679 (1970); Panhandle Oil Co. v. Mississippi ex rel. Knox, 277 U. S. 218, 223 (1928) (Holmes, J., dissenting), overruled in part by Alabama v. King & Boozer, 314 U. S. 1, 8-9 (1941).

In sum, EPA interprets the Act to allow substantive federal Agency surveillance of state permitting authorities' BACT determinations subject to federal-court review. We credit EPA's longstanding construction of the Act and confirm EPA's authority, pursuant to 113(a)(5) and 167, to rule on the reasonableness of BACT decisions by state permitting authorities.


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