State Environmental Rule Insufficient to Warrant Federal Lawsuit

Federal case law summary: Environmental.

McEvoy v. IEI Barge Services. Clean Air Act Citizen Suit.

Adjoining property owner brought action against barge operator under Clean Air Act for pollution resulting from coal dust entering his property. Plaintiff asserted that Clean Air Act's citizen suit provision could be used to enforce two Illinois environmental regulations.

The Seventh Circuit held that the citizen suit provision would not support an action premised upon the violation of these state regulations. The act allows a suit based upon state regulations specifying an "emission standard or limitation". However, the regulations in question were general prohibitions against "pollution" and "fugitive particulate matter". In the absence of "metrics that are susceptible to objective evaluation in court", such a regulation cannot be the basis of a citizen suit under the Clean Air Act.

Nos. 09-3494 & 09-3495, 622 F.3d 671 (7th Cir. Sept. 7, 2010).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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