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Court Order on Motion for Stay 5/13/2014 SW ND

Court Order on Motion for Stay 5/13/2014 SW ND

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Published by freedom1001
Court Order on Motion for Stay 5/13/2014 SW ND
Court Order on Motion for Stay 5/13/2014 SW ND

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Published by: freedom1001 on Jun 07, 2014
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12/10/2014

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF NORTH DAKOTASOUTHWESTERN DIVISION
States of North Dakota, South Dakota,) Nevada, and Texas,))Plaintiffs,)
ORDER
 
GRANTING DEFENDANT’S
)
MOTION TO HOLD CASE IN
vs.)
ABEYANCE
)Regina McCarthy, in her official capacity as)as Administrator of the United States)Environmental Protection Agency,)Case No. 1:13-cv-109)Defendant.) ______________________________________________________________________________ Before the Court is Defendant Regina McCarthy, Administrator of the United StatesEnvironmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), motion to hold the case in abeyance, filed on February14, 2014. See Docket No. 19. Plaintiffs North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, and Texas filed responses in opposition to the motion on March 21, 2014. See Docket Nos. 22 and 23. ThePlaintiffs filed an amended response on April 4, 2014. See Docket No. 25. The EPA filed a reply brief on April 4, 2013. See Docket No. 26. For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted.
I.BACKGROUND
This case concerns claims by the Plaintiffs that the EPA failed to perform a nondiscretionaryaction under the federal Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7401 et. seq. Specifically, the Plaintiffs allegethe EPA has failed to designate areas of the country as attaining, not attaining, or unclassifiableunder the revised National Ambient Air Quality Standard (“NAAQS”) for sulfur dioxide (“SO
2
”)as required by Section § 7407(d)(1)(B) of the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act’s citizen suit provision allows any person to sue in district court to compel the EPA’s Administrator to perform
Case 1:13-cv-00109-DLH-CSM Document 28 Filed 05/13/14 Page 1 of 4
 
any nondiscretionary act or duty under the Clean Air Act. 42 U.S.C. § 7604(a)(2) (“The districtcourts shall have jurisdiction . . . to order the Administrator to perform such [nondiscretionary actor duty under the CAA].)” The Plaintiffs seek to compel the EPA to take the action mandated bythe Clean Air Act. There is little dispute that the EPA has failed to make the required designations. Rather, the debate centers on the appropriate remedy. Settlement discussions have thus far beenunsuccessful.Actions have been filed against the EPA in three different federal district courts seeking tocompel the EPA to perform the nondiscretionary duty at issue. The Sierra Club and NaturalResources Defense Council, Inc. filed the first complaint in the Northern District of California onAugust 26, 2013. Sierra Club et al. v. McCarthy, N.D. Cal. Case No. 13-cv-3953-SI. The Plaintiffsin this action filed their complaint on September 12, 2013. The State of North Carolina filed acomplaint in the Eastern District of North Carolina on October 9, 2013. State of North Carolina v.McCarthy, E.D.N.C. Case No. 5:13-cv-710-F.Motions to intervene as plaintiff-intervenors in the California case were filed by three of thePlaintiffs in this case (North Dakota, Nevada, and Texas), as well as North Carolina, Arizona,Kentucky, and Louisiana. The motions to intervene were granted on December 6, 2013. In the sameorder granting the motions to intervene, the Court granted Plaintiffs Sierra Club and the NaturalResources Defense Council’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability. The Courtdirected the parties to confer on the issue of a remedy but no agreement could be reached. Briefingon the remedy issue was to be completed by May 14, 2014. A hearing is scheduled for May 30,2014. In the North Carolina case, the State of North Carolina filed an unopposed motion to hold 2
Case 1:13-cv-00109-DLH-CSM Document 28 Filed 05/13/14 Page 2 of 4
 
the action in abeyance pending the outcome of the California case. North Carolina’s motion wasmade on the same grounds as the EPA’s motion in this case. The federal court granted that motionon January 8, 2014, and ordered that the parties file a status report no later than May 8, 2014.
II.LEGAL DISCUSSION
It is well-established that a trial court has the inherent power to stay proceedings in order tocontrol its docket, conserve judicial resources, and ensure that matters are handled with economyof time and effort for itself, counsel, and the parties. United States v. Minnkota Power Co-op., Inc.,831 F. Supp. 2d 1109, 1118 (D.N.D. 2011) (citing Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)). The decision to stay proceedings involves an exercise of judgment, which must weigh competinginterests and maintain an even balance. Id. at 1118. The party requesting a stay has the burden todemonstrate a clear case of hardship or inequity if required to go forward, and consideration must be given to whether the stay will work damage to another party. Id. It is quite likely that the issues presented in this case will be resolved by the action now pending in the Northern District of California. The California case will almost certainly be decided  before this Court could reach a resolution because summary judgment has already been granted onthe issue of liability and briefing is complete on the remedy issue. The Court notes the Californiacase was the first federal case filed addressing the failure of the EPA to issue area designations for SO
2
 NAAQS. Further, three of the four Plaintiffs in this case are parties in the California litigation. By staying this action, duplicative litigation proceeding in two federal district courts can be avoided and scarce judicial resources can be conserved. The resources of the parties will be conserved aswell. The Court recognizes that a stay of this matter is not to South Dakota’s advantage. However,3
Case 1:13-cv-00109-DLH-CSM Document 28 Filed 05/13/14 Page 3 of 4

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