Members React to Court Decision on EPA Air Regs

May 18, 1999

DATE: May 18, 1999

Members React to Court Decision on EPA Air Regs
On Friday, May 14th, The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  overturned the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), stating that the EPA overstepped its legal and constitutional authority.  Today, Committee leaders expressed their approval and relief with the Court's decision.

"The court's decision is an  unmistakable reminder that the ultimate responsibility for environmental regulations belongs with Congress and not with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats," Combest said.  "It also made clear that when Congress delegates rule-making authority, agencies are not free to ignore both their legal mandates and sound science in pursuit of their own agendas."

In making its decision, the court found that the EPA had "construed sections 108 and 109 of the Clean Air Act so loosely as to render them unconstitutional delegations of legislative power," and that the "EPA appears to have articulated no intelligible principle" as to how it used scientific data in writing its regulations.

"In my view, the court spoke loud and clear by saying that EPA had been arbitrary and capricious with regard to PM-10," said Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX).  "I believe this decision could  have far-reaching ramifications for all environmental regulation, and I am hopeful it will cause the EPA to base all of their decisions on sound science."

"There are few things more dangerous than unaccountable government officials," Combest said.  "The EPA pursued these regulations despite widespread concerns voiced by rural America, both parties in Congress, and other agencies in the Administration.  There was strong agreement that the regulations were not based on sound science, and I'm happy to see the courts finally stopped this runaway train."

During the 105th Congress, the House Agriculture Committee held multiple hearings and bipartisan groups of Representatives repeatedly voiced their concerns regarding the EPA regulations.  These actions occurred in response to concern throughout America's rural communities and dissent within the Administration due to the EPA's refusal to base its regulations on sound science.