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Policy Integrity Welcomes Supreme Court Decision on Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Policy Integrity welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-2 landmark decision to uphold the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which requires upwind states to reduce emissions that cause downwind states to exceed air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The ruling is a victory for EPA and all public health advocates who work for clean air standards for all across the nation.

Justice Ginsburg, who wrote the majority opinion, cited in her opening paragraph an article by Policy Integrity director Richard Revesz. Ginsburg quoted from Federalism and Interstate Environmental Externalities, (University of Pennsylvania Law Review): “These cases concern the efforts of Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) to cope with a complex problem: air pollution emitted in one State, but causing harm in other States. Left unregulated, the emitting or upwind State reaps the benefits of the economic activity causing the pollution without bearing all the costs.”

The majority opinion said that it makes good sense to use cost-benefit analysis when trying to determine how to most efficiently make reductions in air pollution levels—especially when considering the “thorny causation problem” of toxic emissions drifting into Eastern states from the Midwest.

In December 2013, Revesz, along with Policy Integrity legal director Jason Schwartz and legal fellow Denise Grab were at the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the case. Our amicus brief argued that in place of an established, relatively unchallenged understanding of EPA authority, the lower court substituted its preferred policy for that of the agency. In doing so, it acted inconsistently with core principles of American administrative law.