Client Spotlight: Stoel Rives Prevails for AWB and WSPA in Court Case Challenging Wash. Clean Air Rule

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Stoel Rives congratulates its clients, lead plaintiff Association of Washington Business (AWB), the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), and others on their victory in a case in which Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon blocked the Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) from further implementation of its Clean Air Rule (CAR) on the grounds that the department lacks the authority to do so without legislative approval. The Stoel Rives trial team was led by Jason Morgan and included attorneys Matthew Cohen, Jeff Leppo, Rachel Cox and James Graves.

WDOE implemented the CAR, a first-of-its-kind greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, in 2016 at the direction of Gov. Jay Inslee. In September 2016, AWB, WSPA and a consortium of employer groups filed a lawsuit alleging that the rule was unlawful because the Legislature had not given WDOE the requisite statutory authority to set up such a program.

CAR required certain stationary sources, fuel producers, fuel importers, and, natural gas  distributors to account for greenhouse gas reductions, either by reducing overall emissions or purchasing credits. In an oral ruling, Judge Dixon found that fuel producers and importers and natural gas distributors do not have “emissions” from the products that they sell and therefore could not be regulated under Ecology’s existing authority to set emission standards.

In an email, Leppo wrote, “Jason did a great job in this case in the briefing and in oral argument. He was ably supported by many at Stoel Rives, the most important of which was Matt Cohen, who set the groundwork for the winning argument during the regulatory process and who originated this litigation.”

For more on the case, the AWB press release can be found here.

Key Contributors

Matthew Cohen
James T. Graves
Jeffrey W. Leppo
Jason T. Morgan
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