Management & Operations

Supreme Court unanimously upholds EPA clean-air rules

Posted on April 1, 2001

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously confirmed the constitutionality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to set clean-air standards. The ruling states the EPA did not overstep its bounds when creating strict 1997 air-quality standards for ground-level ozone (smog) and fine particles (soot). The Supreme Court concurred with the lawfulness of the Clean Air Act of 1970 that provides the EPA authorization to set national ambient air-quality standards to protect public health and welfare. The 1997 standards, which have yet to be implemented, would protect an estimated 125 million Americans, including 35 million children, from adverse health effects, said the EPA. Industry groups argued that costs as well as health benefits must be considered when air-quality standards are issued, a defense rejected by the Supreme Court. The new air standards would limit the allowable ozone to .08 parts per million and, for the first time, states must regulate microscopic particles from power plants, cars and other sources down to 2.5 microns.

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