Supreme Court Strengthens Clean Air Act
March 7, 2001
The U.S. Supreme Court, turning aside the stiffest challenge to the Clean Air Act in the law's 30-year history, upheld the way the federal government sets clean-air standards. In so doing, the high court unanimously rejected industry arguments that officials must balance compliance costs against the health benefits of cleaner air. The ruling was a major boost for the federal Clean Air Act. It said the law does not require the government to consider the financial cost of reducing harmful emissions when it sets air-quality standards. The justices also ruled against industry arguments that the Environmental Protection Agency took too much lawmaking power from Congress when it set tougher standards for ozone and soot in 1997. But the court ruled unlawful the EPA's policy for implementing new ozone rules, saying the agency's interpretation of a section of the Clean Air Act was unreasonable.