NRDC Applauds Supreme Court Decision Upholding Clean Air Act Health Standards

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2001) - The unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision announced today upholding the principle that Clean Air Act air pollution standards must be based on health considerations alone is "a home run for public health and the environment," according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). In overturning a lower court opinion, the high court rejected industry efforts to dilute health protections by forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt watered-down standards.

"For 30 years the Clean Air Act air pollution standards have been based on public health needs – not a company’s balance sheet," said David Hawkins, director of NRDC’s Air and Energy Program. "The Supreme Court today resoundingly declared that the Clean Air Act means just that, clean air."

The court also overturned the lower court’s effort to revive a discredited, 70-year-old legal doctrine that would have prevented EPA from carrying out the Clean Air Act to protect public health. "The Supreme Court rejected outrageous industry claims suggesting that the Constitution denies EPA the authority to protect public health and the environment from air pollution," Hawkins said.

NRDC was disappointed with one part of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Environmental Protection Agency v. American Trucking Associations, et al. The court held the EPA’s implementation design for ozone standards was unreasonable and instructed the agency to redo it. "We urge EPA Administrator Whitman to develop a comprehensive plan to protect Americans -- especially children and the elderly -- who live in the most polluted areas of the country," said Hawkins. "She needs to move on this immediately."