Disappointing Says Sen. Murkowski
January 22, 2004
Murkowski said the 5-4 ruling against the state did nothing to help the state's air quality or wildlife, but only pointed out the problems that the state has had in the past in working with the EPA to implement the federal Clean Air Act in Alaska.
"This is a very disappointing decision because the State of Alaska worked long and hard to put a strong air quality protection program into place. The first time that the state needed EPA to use common sense and grant the state the slightest bit of flexibility in the enforcement of federal regulations, the federal government refused to do so for no good reason.
"Given the location of the Red Dog Mine, and the pristine quality of the air in the area, the mine's technical violation of the standards never would have affected the environment. The case actually is already moot because Cominco Alaska has already spent its money to meet the higher air standards that were imposed.
"But the decision is disappointing because the court simply upheld EPA's unwillingness to grant the state any flexibility in enforcing air quality standards. They refused to show the slightest bit of common sense in enforcing air quality standards and now the High Court has backed the agency in that view. The Clean Air Act was always intended to be a collaboration between the federal government and the states. Now that this case is settled, hopefully the federal government will get back to working cooperatively with the state to enforce environmental standards that make sense for Alaska.
"The ruling is just another blow to the concept of states' rights, specifically the right of a state to avoid one-size-fits-all solutions, even when they make little environmental or no economic sense," said Murkowski.
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