US Supreme Court to consider air pollution rules
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USA: November 6, 2000
WASHINGTON - The US Supreme Court this week will consider one of the
most important environmental and business cases in decades, reviewing
the federal government's tough air pollution standards to reduce smog
The high court is set to hear arguments on Tuesday by the Clinton
administration defending the regulations, and business groups opposing
them. The administration argues that the standards will save lives and
reduce health care expenses, while the business groups say the rules
will cost them tens of billions of dollars.
Legal experts said the case offered the Supreme Court its first chance
to review the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) process for
setting national air-quality standards. They said the case also
concerned how much deference should be give to administrative agencies.
When the regulations were issued in 1997, Vice President Al Gore, now
the Democratic nominee for president, called them "the most significant
steps in a generation to protect the American people, especially our
children, from air pollution."
If Republican George W. Bush wins the presidential election against
Gore, his administration could revise the standards before putting them
in effect, lawyers for business groups said.
The Supreme Court will consider the argument by the business groups that
the clean air law requires the government to go beyond the public-health
benefits of reducing air pollution and take into account the economic
costs as well.
The other key issue is whether the law, as interpreted by the EPA,
handed such a broad authority of a legislative nature to a regulatory
agency that it amounted to an unconstitutional delegation by Congress of
its lawmaking power.
EPA SAYS RULES SAVE LIVES, CUT HEATH COSTS
The EPA has predicted that the rules would save lives and billions of
dollars in health costs by reducing air pollution. The EPA has estimated
the standards will protect 125 million Americans from adverse health
effects from air pollution.
The revised air standards limit the allowable level of ozone, an
essential part of smog, to 0.08 parts per million, instead of the 0.12
parts per million under the old rules.
Under the standards, states for the first time must regulate microscopic
particulates, or soot, from power plants, cars and other sources down to
Solicitor General Seth Waxman, who will argue the case for the
administration, said Congress in 1970 decided air pollution standards
should be set based on the effects on public health and welfare, not
based on a cost-benefit approach.
Story by James Vicini
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
gary.greenberg at duke.edu Duke Occupat, Environ, Int & Fam Medicine
OEM-L Maillist Website: http://occhealthnews.com