Sonia Sotomayor on Environment



Ok for EPA to balance cost vs. environmental effectiveness

Riverkeeper v. EPA, 2007, challenged an EPA rule regulating cooling-water intake structures at power plants. To minimize the adverse impact on aquatic life, the Clean Water Act requires the intake structures to use the "best technology available," withou specifying that technology. Sotomayor held that the EPA was not permitted to engage in a cost-benefit analysis to determine the "best technology"; instead, it could consider cost only to determine whether the proposed technology was "cost-effective"-- which, she concluded, includes whether the technology at issue is "a less expensive technology that achieves essentially the same results" as the best technology available. Thus, she explained, "the EPA, given a choice between a technology that costs $100 to save 99-101 fish and one that costs $150 to save 100-103 fish, could appropriately choose the cheaper technology on cost-effectiveness grounds." By a vote of 6-3, the Supreme Court held that EPA could conduct full cost-benefit analyses.
Source: ScotusBlog.com, "Civil Litigation" , Jul 25, 2009

Government taking to develop a blighted area was appropriate

Q: What is your opinion of the Kelo decision? What is an appropriate "public use" for condemning private property?

A: Kelo is now a precedent of the court. I must follow it. I am bound by a circuit--a Supreme Court decision, as a 2nd Circuit judge. As a Supreme Court judge, I must give it the deference that the doctrine of stare decisis would suggest. The question of the reach of Kelo has to be examined in the context of each situation. And the court did in Kelo note that there was a role for the courts to play in ensuring that takings by a state did in fact intend to serve a public purpose and public use. I understand the concern that many citizens have expressed about whether Kelo did or did not honor the importance of property rights. But the question in Kelo was a complicated one about what constituted public use, and there the court held that a taking to develop an economically blighted area was appropriate.

Source: 2009 SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee , Jul 14, 2009

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Other Justices on Environment: Sonia Sotomayor on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022