Paisely v. Grumbles

UPDATE:  On September 2, 2011, the Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the funding restored.  The Court's decision is attached. 

The Arizona legislature recently decided that in these tough economic times clean air is something the state simply can't afford. In March, the legislature repealed a 1993 statute directing a significant percentage of lottery proceeds to expand and support public transit. The 1993 statute, which directed lottery funds to a "Local Transportation Assistance Fund" ("LTAF") was adopted in response to the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and was included in the state's implementation plan ("SIP") as a control measure that would reduce carbon monoxide, ozone and particulate matter. Once EPA approved that SIP, it became federally enforceable by citizen suit under the Clean Air Act.  This is where the Center comes into the story.

In April, Center staff attorney Joy Herr-Cardillo sent the state a required 60-day notice stating that the attempted repeal of the LTAF violated Arizona's SIP and demanding that the state restore the transit funding.  When Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality refused to act, the Center filed this lawsuit on June 15 in federal court.

The state's failure to comply with its own SIP not only places the state in violation of federal law, but it also jeopardizes EPA approval of the state's pending EPA submissions, including the latest Phoenix air quality plan for particulate matter. This plan is especially important given that in 1996, the EPA classified Phoenix as a serious PM-10 (particles of 10 micrometers or less) non-attainment area under the Clean Air Act.  

In other words, the air in Phoenix is already very bad to breathe without discontinuing important control measures that have been in place for decades. 

Instead of reducing public transit, the state should be expanding it.  Ironically, if the plan is disapproved (which EPA is proposing to do), the state will face sanctions including loss of federal highway funds.  Of course, Phoenix residents could face something far worse - many more years of breathing in poisonous air.  

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Order granting MSJ.pdf89.83 KB

Case Updates

Judge Rules in Center's Favor and Will Order State to Resume Use of Lottery Funds to Fund Transit in Maricopa County

The same day he heard oral argument on the parties' Motions for Summary Judgment in the Center's case brought challenging the Legislature's sweep of lottery funds earmarked for transit, Judge David Campbell issued an order ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and declaring the legislature's action a violation of federal law.

Lottery Should Fund Clean Air

11/10: The Center's staff attorney Joy Herr-Cardillo is in federal court today defending our right to breathe clean air. In 1993, as part of an effort to fight air pollution, the state passed a law to use lottery proceeds to expand public transit. Now that Governor Jan Brewer and the legislature have repealed that law, and are raiding the Clean Air Fund, the Center is working to hold them accountable.