Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clean Air in the Balance

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clean Air in the Balance

Article excerpt

The US Supreme Court this week stopped a significant legal challenge to the federal Clean Air Act. But a vigorous political and legal debate over the costs involved in applying the act's broad regulatory powers will undoubtedly continue.

Acting with unaccustomed unanimity, the court made it clear those powers themselves were not in question.

The justices threw out a lower court ruling that Congress had unconstitutionally delegated too much of its authority to an executive agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, when it passed the clean air law in 1970. That ruling, if it had stood, posed a threat not only to environmental regulation, but to federal regulatory powers generally.

More significantly, the court also rejected the contention of truckers and other industry interests that the EPA's clean air standards for smog (ozone) and soot, set in 1997, were invalid because they didn't take into account the costs of meeting them.

The question of such costs to industry is at the heart of environmental debate in the country. …

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