Supreme Court Takes Positive Step Toward Regulatory Improvement

Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) Foundation today applauded the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to expand their review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial 1997 air quality regulations.

“The expanded review may someday soon give us the ability to weigh the costs and benefits of proposed regulations,” said Patrick Burns, Director of Environmental Policy at CSE Foundation. “Americans could finally make objective decisions about whether the potential benefit — either to public health or the environment — of a new rule is worth its expense.”

The Supreme Court recently agreed to review a lower court ruling that blocked the EPA from implementing 1997 regulations that would have put most of the populated areas in the United States into “non-attainment” under the Clean Air Act. Under a non-attainment designation, EPA has tremendous power over state and local governments through the ability to withhold highway funding and new business development. Calling the regulations “arbitrary and capricious” the lower court found that the EPA had exceeded its authority in issuing the new rules.

Despite the lower court’s ruling, the EPA has continued to demand that states and localities comply with the regulations. In Texas, for example, the EPA has threatened San Antonio, Austin, and Longview with non-attainment designations. Other areas throughout the country have faced similar intimidation.

“A decision in favor of cost-benefit analysis would be real step toward regulatory improvement,” concluded Burns. “Hopefully now, the EPA will stop using these unlawful regulations to threaten communities across the country with non-attainment and wait for the Court to make a final ruling.”