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.