EPA Will Not Appeal Michigan DTE Energy-Sierra Club CAA Settlement

According to a press release put out yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Biden Administration has decided not to contest a district court decision upholding a private settlement between the Sierra Club and DTE Energy (DTE). The EPA has reportedly declined to appeal because it agrees with the Eastern District of Michigan’s conclusion that the parties’ settlement accomplishes an “enormous environmental benefit” that is wholly consistent with the goals of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

Last year, the federal government signed an agreement with DTE concerning CAA violations at five of the companies’ electric generating stations in Michigan. Contemporaneously, the Sierra Club, who intervened in the suit, agreed to additional relief in a separate agreement with DTE, consistent with the August 2020 federal consent decree.

According to the press release, the Sierra Club’s separate agreement requires DTE to retire six of its coal-fired broilers at dates certain. In addition, DTE must undertake several mitigation projects, including replacing older diesel buses with new electric buses and putting aside $2 million for environmental projects aimed at reducing air pollution in the communities impacted by DTE’s CAA violations.

Previously, the Trump Administration took issue with the parties’ separate settlement and asked a federal court to block it. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction over the “private settlement,” and noted that the parties’ agreement in no way interferes with the consent decree, but rather achieves great benefit on behalf of the environment and in line with CAA objectives.