CEI Disappointed in Supreme Court Clean Air Act Decision

Washington, DC, February 27, 2001 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute today announced its disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision concerning the Clean Air Act and urged Congress and the Bush administration to consider the questionable scientific merits of the regulations at issue. While the Court’s decision in Whitman v. ATA was based on the constitutional issue of delegation of authority, the future of the issue will rest on whether the data underlying the EPA’s past decisions stand up to scientific scrutiny.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Today’s decision is a reversal of a 1999 Court of Appeals decision invalidating EPA standards for ozone and particulate matter. The Court also rejected the argument that EPA is permitted to consider costs in setting these standards. “It is unfortunate that this Court will not stand in the way of expensive regulations of questionable merit,” said Ben Lieberman, senior policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “We can only hope that the new EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Congress will explore the uncertain scientific support before moving ahead,” he added.


The original decision held that EPA’s regulations were so sweeping and unsupported so as to resemble an exercise of legislative power only permitted to Congress. However, the Supreme Court found EPA’s rules to be within the range of allowable agency discretion. The Court also interpreted the applicable language in the 1970 Clean Air Act to forbid EPA from taking implementation costs into account when setting air quality standards.


The decision places some limits on EPA as it goes forward with its new ozone rule. But, for the most part, the agency’s standards are no longer hindered by legal problems.



CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Richard Morrison, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 266.