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January 27, 2000

Supreme Court Asked to Review Air Quality Standards Case


Diane Maple, American Lung Association, 202-785-3355

Howard Fox, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, 202-667-4500


Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of the American Lung Association, today asked the U.S. Supreme Cout to review an appeals court decision issued last spring that found that Congress had violated the U.S. Constitution by delegating too much authority to the Environmental Protection Agency in its mandate to interpret and enforce the Clean Air Act. The cases were consolidated as (American Trucking Association v. U.S. EPA. The American Lung Association was an intervenor in the lower court cases.

The Environmental Protection Agency has petitioned for review as well.

The Lung Association petition argues:

The court of appeals erred in holding that the Clean Air Act provisions governing national ambient air quality standards, and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) interpretation of those provisions, represent an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

The court of appeals erred in calling into question the EPA's authority to implement new, more health-protective national ambient air quality standards for ozone.

"We believe the court of appeals misread the U.S. Constitution and the Clean Air Act and should be reversed," said Ernest P. Franck, President of the American Lung Association.

The EPA promulgated revised health standards for ozone and particulate matter in 1997. These standards reflected new health research that demonstrated the old standards were inadequate to protect public health. Industry organizations, led by the American Trucking Association and others, sued the EPA to challenge the standards and prevent their implementation. The American Lung Association and the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont joined with EPA to defend the standards.

"Each year, these critical public health standards will save thousands of lives and prevent thousands of hospitalizations for respiratory and heart disease," noted Howard I. Fox, staff attorney for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, pro bono counsel to the Lung Association.

"The Clean Air Act promises the American people clean air to breathe. Meeting health standards that protect the public is the lynchpin of the Act," added Franck. "We hope the Court will recognize and reinforce this promise."

The Supreme Court is expected to act on the petition this spring.

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