Court Dismisses Lawsuit Attempting to Classify Diesel Patriculates as Hazardous Wastes
A federal court on May 29 dismissed a novel lawsuit against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Co. and Union Pacific Corp. brought by environmental groups in October 2011 seeking to label diesel particulates as contaminants under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The U.S. District Court for the Central District of Los Angeles ruled that Congress intended for diesel exhaust to be regulated by EPA under the federal Clean Air Act – not under RCRA. The lawsuit is part of a long-standing campaign by environmental groups to curb diesel emissions at Los Angeles area rail yards and ports from both locomotives and trucks. Plaintiffs had sought to regulate such emissions under the authority of RCRA by classifying them as “discarded solid or hazardous waste.” Plaintiffs argued that once emitted into the air, diesel particulate matter consists of solid particles that fall on surfaces and into waterways, thereby creating multiple human exposure pathways. Plaintiffs in the case have indicated their intention to appeal the decision. (Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice v. Union Pacific Corp., C.D. Cal., No. 11-CV-08608, 5/29/12).