US Will Not Appeal District Court Decision Allowing Sierra Club-DTE Energy Settlement
WASHINGTON (February 4, 2021) — The Biden-Harris Administration has decided not to appeal a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan upholding a private settlement between Sierra Club and DTE Energy. EPA agrees with the court’s factual conclusion that the settlement accomplishes an enormous environmental benefit that is fully consistent with the goals of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
“EPA supports citizen enforcement and we appreciate Sierra Club’s cooperation with the United States throughout this litigation,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
In 2020, the United States and Sierra Club (which had intervened in the case) signed a settlement with DTE Energy to address violations of the Clean Air Act at five of their electric generating stations in Michigan. At the same time, Sierra Club and DTE signed a separate agreement for additional relief that was consistent with the federal consent decree. The separate agreement requires the retirement of six of DTE’s coal-fired boilers by certain specified dates and includes several additional mitigation projects, including replacing older diesel buses with new electric buses and $2 million for additional environmental projects, which are intended to result in air pollution reductions in the affected communities. A federal consent decree was entered in July 2020. The Trump Administration filed a brief to block the separate Sierra Club/DTE agreement, but that move was rejected by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction over Sierra Club’s and DTE’s “private settlement.” The court also found that the private agreement “does nothing to interfere with the consent decree,” but actually “accomplishes an enormous environmental benefit that is fully consistent with the goals of the CAA.” The United States has decided not to appeal the decision.
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