SCOTUS Sides with Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic Amicus Brief in Clean Air Case

An amicus brief filed by Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic (IEC) students and faculty in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was on the winning side of the court's recent ruling on the case EPA v. EME Homer City Generation LP. The case challenged  the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which seeks to protect the health of citizens of downwind states by placing limits on air pollution that crosses state lines. In a 6-2 decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of the EPA, stating that the government did not violate the Clean Air Act when it implemented CSAPR. Electric power companies and several states and local governments had challenged the rule as overreaching. 

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IEC attorney Liz Hubertz  filed the brief, with help from third-year law student Raya Rivera and fellow IEC clinic student Jennifer Elwell. It contained the arguments of 12 leading atmospheric scientists and air quality modeling experts from such leading universities as MIT, Stanford, Columbia, and Duke. EPA promulgated the CSAPR rule in 2011, and it was immediately challenged in federal court. In 2012, in a 2-1 decision, the DC Circuit held that EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act when EPA failed to heed what the opinion called “red lines” or constraints imposed by the statute itself, thereby leading to “overcontrol” of cross-state pollution in some upwind states. 

 Coverage of the April 29 ruling:  

  • Wall Street Journal [view
  • New York Times [view]  
  • National Journal [view
  • Law360  [view

Timothy J. Fox, Spring 2014