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Mar 2001
March 01, 2001

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds EPA's Revised NAAQS for Ozone and Particulate Matter

On February 27, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 9-0 ruling, upheld EPA's July 18, 1997 rule making revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standards ("NAAQS") for Ozone and Particulate Matter. Whitman v American Trucking Assn. In short, the Court held that the Clean Air Act ("CAA") does not allow the EPA to consider implementation costs in setting NAAQS. The Court also reversed the Court of Appeals holding that EPA had violated the nondelegation doctrine. The Court did hold, however, that the implementation policy was unlawful. The Court found that although the statute was ambiguous with respect to the interaction between Part D Subpart 1 and Subpart 2, EPA's interpretation would effectively nullify Subpart 2 and that interpretation is unlawful. The Court left it to EPA to come up with a "reasonable interpretation" of the nonattainment implementation provisions regarding the revised ozone standard. For the opinion itself, see opinions/00pdf/99-1257.pdf.

With this victory, EPA will soon be undertaking the rule makings necessary to redesignate areas with respect to the revised ozone standard and the particulate matter 2.5 standard.

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