Green groups won an important victory for clean air last week when a federal appeals court ruled that chemical plants, refineries, and other industrial sites are still subject to pollution limits even during equipment malfunctions and when plants start up or shut down. Some refineries and other sites have used the Clean Air Act’s start-up, shut-down loophole — which the Bush administration expanded — to evade enforcement actions. “For more than a decade, polluters have relied on this loophole at the expense of neighboring communities,” said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew.