Supreme Court to Set Environmental Precedent

Tuesday, 19 Apr 2011 05:31 PM

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The U.S. Supreme Court will set a precedent for which branch of the government can rule on environmental issues in a case that involves not only New York City but also several states. American Electric Power v. Connecticut pits the Big Apple and the states of New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Iowa, California, and Vermont against five utilities.

The complainants want to be able to sue utilities over pollutants. The utilities counter that the decision should be made by lawmakers rather than the courts.

The new case raises concern that giving states and cities this power would spur an avalanche of lawsuits.

Ilya Shapiro tells the DailyCaller.com that environmental disputes are political and should not be decided in court. “Courts aren’t well positioned to resolve complex issues of science and politics,” says Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. “These are controversial, high-profile debates that are properly left to the political branches.”

Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute tells the DailyCaller: “All one needs to do is consider the world, the chaos and economic ruin the states are asking the Court to sanction, to see it is nothing the framers or their constitution ever intended.”

In 2007’s Massachusetts v EPA, the last time the court ruled on a major environmental issue, it sided with 12 states in obliging the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate pollutants.


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