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Court dismisses attempt to force EPA decision on Nucor DRI plant

Keywords: Tags  Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, LDEQ, Environmental protection Agency, EPA, Nucor, direct-reduced iron, DRI

NEW YORK — A federal appellate court has dismissed attempts by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) designed to force the US Environmental Protection Agency to make a final ruling on environmental permits for Nucor’s direct-reduced iron (DRI) facility in Louisiana. The court said it lacked subject matter jurisdiction but did not determine whether LDEQ and Nucor may pursue other avenues of judicial review such as action in district court.

The ruling does not significantly change the situation for Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor and its DRI facility, but as a result there remains uncertainty and the theoretical possibility that the EPA could vacate the permits, even as the plant prepares to start production.

The LDEQ and Nucor were seeking to remove that uncertainty.

“There’s a plant sitting out there ready to go to production in September, and the EPA is still sitting there saying ‘we reserve the right to disapprove this permit,’” David R. Taggart, a partner at Bradley Murchison Kelly & Shea LLC in Shreveport, La., and Nucor’s legal counsel, told AMM.

The LDEQ issued three permits for iron making facilities at Nucor’s Louisiana site, beginning in 2010. Under Title V of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the right to review title V permits and can object to the issuance of the permit if it is deemed not to be in compliance with applicable requirements of the legislation. The EPA filed an objection to the three permits issued to Nucor, but not until March 2012. The LDEQ and Nucor claim that the objection was “improper” and sought for the objection to be vacated.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story that appeared on may have suggested that the court ruling placed new obstacles before Nucor and that it cast doubts over the future of the plant. For clarification, no new hurdles resulted from the court's decision. In dismissing the case, the status quo has been preserved and Nucor and LDEQ continue to await a decision.

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