Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Supreme Court Upholds Clean Air Regulations

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Supreme Court Upholds Clean Air Regulations

Article excerpt

One of the biggest challenges ever mounted against the Clean Air Act has failed, but legal and political wrangling over EPA's standard-setting authority is far from over.

The court ruled Feb. 27 that, when issuing new regulations, EPA must only consider public health and safety and may not engage in the cost-benefit calculations a coalition of industry groups sought to introduce into the statute. The ruling also rejected the argument that Congress has unconstitutionally delegated too much power to EPA in setting clean-air standards.

However, the court sent back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia the question of whether EPA's ozone and particulate matter standards were "arbitrary and capricious."

"This is the real story, not the cost or delegation issues, but sending both ozone and particulate matter back to the court of appeals," said Robin Conrad, senior vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, legal arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The court will determine if EPA's regulations were rational in the first place. If the court finds EPA was unreasonable in setting these regulations, Conrad said, "that ends the matter" because the regulations would be invalid.

The ozone rule faces a double hurdle because, even if the court of appeals rules in EPA's favor, the agency must explain that its implementation of the standard is reasonable. Conrad said the dispute here has to do with the deadlines EPA imposed for compliance. …

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