Friday, November 03, 2006

Washington Post editorial: Supreme Court needs to send a strong message to polluters

The Washington Post has an excellent editorial today on the "Duke" case that was argued before the Supreme Court this week.

The full editorial is at

Here are a few excerpts:

... If the Supreme Court sides with Duke Energy -- as several justices seemed inclined to do -- it will do a great deal of damage.

The Clean Air Act requires utilities to install pollution-control equipment when they modernize plants in a fashion that increases emissions. Many companies long flouted this rule -- and regulators left it unenforced until the Clinton administration. Duke Energy, which runs several power plants in the Carolinas, was one of them. It contends that its considerable upgrades to its facilities don't count as increasing pollution because they don't jack up their hourly emissions but allow the plants merely to run more hours in a day. The company contends that the Environmental Protection Agency changed the rules on it -- suddenly evaluating increases on the basis of actual emissions per year instead of, as it does under a different provision of law, hourly polluting capacity. And it persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to block enforcement against it.

The argument is wrong, and Duke Energy made it to the wrong court....

The court should rule that companies need to obey clean air rules and can't do an end run around the D.C. Circuit when they want to challenge them.

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