Justices reject industry challenge to air pollution ruling

Reported by Associated Press

The Supreme Court declined today to hear industry complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency should have dropped some old clean air safeguards when it imposed a more stringent air quality standard for ozone.

EPA concluded that its existing standard for ozone exposure was inadequate to protect public health and the agency has estimated it will cost 9.6 billion dollars a year in increased costs for polluters to comply with the new one.

When regulators relax a standard as opposed to imposing a tougher one, the Clean Air Act contains a section designed to ensure that air quality won't deteriorate in an area.

Safeguards, which regulators refer to as "anti-backsliding" requirements, call for control measures on polluters.

Petitioning the court were the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, the American Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute and the Utility Air Regulatory Group.

Separately, businesses in Baton Rouge also asked the Supreme Court to hear their objection to EPA's position on the new ozone standard.

Lawyers for the businesses said that if Louisiana is forced to revise its pollution control plan, over 150 Baton Rouge businesses will be forced to pay 65 million to 100 million dollars a year, threatening thousands of jobs in an economy still overwhelmed by the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.