Supreme Court Upholds EPA Regulation to Reduce Downwind Pollution
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an EPA regulation that will delegate the duty to stop or at least reduce polluted air from blowing from one state into another. The 6-2 decision in Environmental Protection Agency v. EME Homer City Generation was a clear victory to those trying to reduce air pollution caused by power plants.
At issue in the lawsuit was the so-called “good neighbor policy,” passed by Congress in 1977. The policy mandated that upwind states create strategies for keeping the polluters within their borders from sending pollutants to downwind states and preventing them from meeting the requirements of the federal Clean-Air Act. In 1990, Congress expanded the requirements telling the states to prohibit any source inside their borders from adding “significantly” to neighbors’ ability to maintain clean air.
After several failed attempts, the EPA adopted a complex rule that took into account the wind flow patterns between the states. Rather than calculating each upwind state’s portion of pollution transported into neighboring states, the EPA used cost-based formulas.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the EPA’s cost-based formulas should be struck down. The Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA should apportion blame state by state on the basis of each state’s share of impairing downwind air quality.
The high Court overturned the Court of Appeals and said that the courts should defer to the EPA’s expertise. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., did not participate in the ruling.
Ginsburg acknowledged the difficulty of the Clean Air Act’s requirements for eliminating air pollution in downwind states by citing John 3:8 of the bible: “As expressed in a holy book,” she said, “‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, … thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.’”
The Court also ruled that EPA had no duty to give the affected states a new opportunity to fashion their own pollution-control strategies to protect their neighbors.
The dissent was written by Justice Antonin Scalia and joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, arguing that there is no textual basis in the Clean Air Act to justify the EPA’s rule. Scalia disagreed with the majority’s reliance on the EPA by stating “the major problem that many citizens have with the federal government these days: that they are governed not so much by their elected representatives as by an unelected bureaucracy operating under vague statutory standards.” The dissenters believed each state should be held accountable for its own share of pollution that is sent downwind.
Ketanji Brown Jackson to Join SCOTUS as First Black Female Justiceby DONALD SCARINCI on June 3, 2022
Ketanji Brown Jackson made history on April 7, 2022, when the U.S. Senate confirmed her as the firs...
SCOTUS Wraps Up Oral Arguments for the Termby DONALD SCARINCI on May 17, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded its oral arguments for the October 2021 Term. The justices hea...
SCOTUS Rules Censure of Elected Board Member Didn’t Violate First Amendmentby DONALD SCARINCI on May 10, 2022
In Houston Community College System v. Wilson, 595 U.S. ____ (2022), the U.S. Supreme Court held th...
- Establishment ClauseFree Exercise Clause
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedoms of Press
- Freedom of Assembly, and Petitition
- The Right to Bear Arms
- Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
- Due Process
- Eminent Domain
- Rights of Criminal Defendants
Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.