US high court expands smog-soot case

The US Supreme Court has broadened its review of the Environmental Protection Agency�s 1997 smog-soot rule to consider whether the agency should have considered the economic costs of the regulation. The rule affected refineries, as well as other oil industry operations.

May 31st, 2000


The US Supreme Court has broadened its review of the Environmental Protection Agency�s 1997 smog-soot rule to consider whether the agency should have considered the economic costs of the regulation.

The court previously had agreed to consider whether EPA exceeded its legal authority in drafting the regulation to reduce ozone and particulate emissions (OGJ, May 24, 1999, p. 39). The rule affected refineries, as well as other oil industry operations.

In a case brought by the American Trucking Association and supported by oil groups, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled last year that EPA had failed to show that public health protection considerations justified the tougher rules. The court also said EPA had assumed regulatory powers that Congress had not, or could not, delegate under the US Constitution. It blocked the rule from taking effect.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court granted a second appeal regarding the smog-soot rule. The US Chamber of Commerce and other groups asked the high court to consider whether EPA should have weighed the rule on a cost-benefit basis.

Generally, lower courts have held that EPA does not have to consider compliance costs when initially drafting antipollution rules under the Clean Air Act. The high court will hear arguments in the case this fall and issue an opinion later.

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