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Weld County Board of County Commissioners v. Ryan.

2022 COA 26. No. 20CA1445. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Quality Control Commission— Rulemaking—Standing—Judicial Review—Jurisdiction—Colorado Administrative Procedure Act—Colorado Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act.

February 24, 2022

The Colorado General Assembly passed SB 19-181 to address, among other things, the effects of oil and gas operations on air quality in Colorado. The bill directed the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (Department) Air Quality Control Commission (Commission) to adopt new rules and revise existing rules to minimize emissions of certain air pollutants. In response, the Department’s Air Pollution Control Division (Division) proposed changes to Regulation 7, 5 CCR 1001-9, which addresses the control of volatile organic compound emissions from oil and gas operations. The Commission initiated rulemaking to revise Regulation 7. Weld County actively engaged in the rulemaking process, including by submitting comments and expert testimony. The Commission ultimately adopted substantial revisions to Regulation 7 that were largely consistent with those the Division had proposed. The Board of County Commissioners of Weld County (County) filed a complaint in district court asserting claims against the Department, its executive director, and the Commission under the State Administrative Procedure Act and the Colorado Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.

On appeal, the County argued that it had standing to challenge the Commission’s rulemaking and, therefore, the court erred by dismissing its complaint for lack of jurisdiction. However, absent an express statutory right, a subordinate state agency lacks standing or any other legal authority to obtain judicial review of a superior state agency’s action. Here, the County is subordinate to the Commission in the context of air quality control, and there is no statute that gives the County standing to seek judicial review. Accordingly, the district court correctly dismissed the complaint.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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