The U.S. Supreme Court today will consider one of the most important environmental and business cases in decades, reviewing EPA''s authority to set clean air standards.
The high court will hear arguments by the Clinton administration defending the regulations, and business groups opposing them.
Business groups will argue that the clean air law requires the government to go beyond the public-health benefits of reducing air pollution and take into account the economic cost as well.
Also at issue is whether Congress may delegate to a federal agency the power to set environmental standards, or whether lawmakers themselves should write such measures into law.
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments required the federal government, states and cites to further reduce emissions of smog-causing pollutants from cars, industrial facilities, power plants and consumer products.
The revised air standards limit the allowable level of ozone, an essential part of smog, to 0.08 parts per million, instead of the 0.12 parts per million under the old rules.
EPA has predicted that the rules would save lives and billions of dollars in health costs by reducing air pollution.
It is estimated that the standards will protect 125 million Americans from adverse health effects from air pollution, according to EPA.
by Virginia Sutcliffe