Supreme Court rules against EPA’s interpretation of Clean Air Act

On Monday, the High Court ruled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority in its interpretation of the Clean Air Act.  In the ruling, the Supreme Court determined the EPA unreasonably construed the act when it placed limitations on power plants’ toxic emissions; the Court resolved the EPA did not assess costs charged on the industry when imposing the regulations.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for family budgets and job creation in Michigan. The court agreed that we can and must find a constructive balance in protecting the environment and continuing Michigan’s economic comeback,” said Bill Schuette, Attorney General for the state of Michigan.

In response, EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said:  “The agency was reviewing the decision Monday.”

“EPA is disappointed that the Court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance,” Harrison said in a statement.

Codified in 1970 with massive regulatory controls, the Clean Air Act has been subject to several ensuing amendments which widened the scope of the law.  In 1977, the law was expanded to include the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which regulates carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur-oxide emissions; the 1990 amendments included directives for acid rain, toxic air pollutants, ozone depletion, and gasoline evaporative emissions.

The case before the High Court was the result of 23 states filing briefs opposing the EPA’s evaluation of the act when introducing the new regulations.