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Supremes Hand USEPA the Hammer

Federalism reigns Supreme. Supreme Court that is.

In a riveting, 61-page opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can overrule state courts when ordering anti-pollution measures, even if they entail increased costs.

What?

Well, look at it this way: the USEPA has final authority over the 50 states when it comes to air pollution, even if it means that the cost to implement pollution control devices is expensive. Same thing, different way.

The Clean Air Act gives initial authority to the states to regulate pollution control devices, but allows the USEPA to look over the states' shoulder. When the USEPA thinks the state is being too lenient, it can step in and order that the pollution control devices be installed, without regard to cost.

Big decision, big cost. Not good news for industries, but good news for environmentalists.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 21, 2004


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