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Supreme Court affirms EPA role in Alaska mine

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld federal regulation of a mine an Alaska Native village says is polluting the environment.

Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the Environmental Protection Agency has the right to overrule the state of Alaska and stop the expansion of the world's largest zinc mine. State officials had approved the expansion but EPA said the mine operators weren't doing enough to reduce the emission of pollutants.

The Red Dog Mine is located near the Native village of Kivalina. Residents there have pushed for greater environmental safeguards.

The mine is owned by NANA Regional Corporation, an Alaska Native corporation, and is operated by a third-party company.

The case is Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation v. EPA, No. 02-658.

In related news, the Bush administration said it would enforce provisions of the Clean Air Act to force aging coal-fired power plants to update anti-pollution equipment.

Get the Story:
Justices Decide EPA Can Overrule States (The Washington Post 1/22)
Justices rule against state, mine (The Anchorage Daily News 1/22)
Ruling favors EPA over states (The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 1/22)
In Reversal, EPA to Push Cleanup of Power Plants (The Washington Post 1/22)
Court Upholds E.P.A. Role in Alaska Case (The New York Times 1/22)

Get the Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg]| Dissent [Kennedy]

Lower Court Ruling:
STATE OF ALASKA v. US ENVTL. PROT. AGENCY, No. 00-70166/69/75, 70301 (9th Cir. July 30, 2002)

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 02-658

Related Stories:
Supreme Court hearing Alaska mine permit case (10/08)
Supreme Court accepts Alaska mine permit appeal (02/25)
Alaska mine target of $60 million suit (09/20)
Village buoyed by court ruling on mine (7/31)
Alaska Natives to sue over mine damage (7/18)