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Board of Education of Roxana Community School District No. 1 v. Pollution Control Board

Supreme Court of Illinois

November 21, 2013

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF ROXANA COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT No. 1, Appellant,
v.
THE POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD et al., Appellees.

Held [*]

Certification of a pollution control facility presents a technical question between its seeker and regulatory authorities, with no involvement of entities which claim this may cost them revenue but who, nevertheless, may object when taxes are assessed and seek circuit court review—school board’s direct appeal to appellate court from Pollution Control Board’s certifications and its denial of leave to intervene properly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on direct appeal from the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

Stuart L. Whitt, Joshua S. Whitt, Brian R. Bare and Brittany F. Theis, of Appeal Whitt Law LLC, of Aurora, and Donald M. Craven and Esther J. Seitz, both of Springfield, for appellant.

Katherine D. Hodge and Monica T. Rios, of Hodge Dwyer & Driver, and Larry E. Hepler, Beth A. Bauer, Thomas H. Wilson and Michael P. Murphy, of HeplerBroom, LLC, all of Springfield, for appellee WRB Refining LP.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, and Richard S. Huszagh, Assistant Attorney General, of Chicago, of counsel), for appellees Illinois Pollution Control Board and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Burke took no part in the decision.

OPINION

KARMEIER JUSTICE

¶ 1 The issue in this case is whether the appellate court ruled correctly when it concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain an appeal by the Board of Education of Roxana Community School District No. 1 (the Board of Education) from decisions of the Pollution Control Board which denied the Board of Education's petitions to intervene in 28 separate proceedings for certification of certain facilities as "pollution control facilities" and granted the subject certifications. The basis for the appellate court's ruling was that judicial review of a Pollution Control Board decision to issue, refuse to issue, deny, revoke, modify or restrict a pollution control certificate is governed by section 11-60 of the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/11-60 (West 2010)). Under that provision, appeals must be filed in circuit court, not the appellate court, and can only be brought by applicants for or holders of the certificates, classifications into which the Board of Education did not fall. 2012 IL App (4th) 120174-U.

¶ 2 One justice dissented. He believed the Board of Education should have been permitted to prosecute this appeal pursuant to section 41 of the Environmental Protection Act (415 ILCS 5/41 (West 2010)), which permits appeals directly to the appellate court by, inter alios, "any party adversely affected by a final order or determination of the Board."

¶ 3 Following entry of the appellate court's judgment, the Board of Education petitioned this court for leave to appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Feb. 26, 2010). We granted the petition. For the reasons that follow, we now affirm.

¶ 4 BACKGROUND

¶ 5 The facts necessary for resolution of this appeal are straightforward and undisputed. A company known as WRB Refining, LP (WRB), owns the Wood River Petroleum Refinery in Madison County. Following major renovations to the refinery, WRB submitted separate applications to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) pursuant to section 11-25 of the Property Tax Code (35 ILCS 200/11-25 (West 2010)) to have 28 of the refinery's systems, methods, devices, and facilities certified as "pollution control facilities" within the meaning of section 11-10 of the Code (35 ILCS 200/11-10 (West 2010)). WRB sought those certifications because, if approved, they would result in a preferential tax assessment of the subject systems, methods, devices and facilities. See 35 ILCS 200/11-5, 11-15, 11-20 (West 2010).

ΒΆ 6 WRB filed its 28 applications in October of 2010. The following August, the IEPA recommended to the Pollution Control Board that it approve two of WRB's certification requests. The Board accepted the IEPA's recommendations and ...


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