Court allows EPA to strengthen rules for lead battery makers

By Sean Reilly | 04/19/2024 01:40 PM EDT

The agency said it is rethinking its earlier refusal to require airborne pollution tracking around manufacturing sites.

The E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington.

The E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse is home to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Federal judges have opened the door for EPA to order dozens of battery makers to track concentrations of airborne lead around their operations, potentially marking another stride toward expanded adoption of the hitherto rare requirement.

In a short order Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted the agency’s request to take another look at its earlier refusal to wrap the “fenceline” — or on-site — monitoring requirement into a regulatory update for lead acid battery manufacturers issued early last year.

After the Hoosier Environmental Council and two other groups then challenged that decision in a lawsuit before the D.C. Circuit, attorneys for EPA signaled plans to reconsider last November. They followed up two months ago with an unopposed motion seeking a voluntary remand to revisit that portion of the updated regulations, writing that a second look “could fully address and resolve” the challengers’ concerns — “or at least narrow the issues in dispute.”


In an accompanying declaration, Penny Lassiter, head of the Sector Policies and Programs Division within EPA’s air office, said the agency now expects to put in place a new rule on fence-line monitoring. While EPA intends to proceed “expeditiously,” Lassiter did not give a timetable for completing work on the planned rule.