Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee is Favored by Environmentalists

NYTimes has an interesting article about Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Enviro groups like what they see in Obama's justice pick

  • Published: May 27, 2009

"Judge Sotomayor is well-qualified in light of her personal, academic, legal and judicial experience," said Glenn Sugameli, senior legislative counsel and head of Earthjustice's judicial nominations project. "Her knowledge, understanding and service as a federal trial and appellate court judge provide invaluable perspectives for deciding environmental protection and related issues."

What has the environmentalists excited is a ruling on temperature of water from power plants.

Environmentalists primarily are pointing to a single 2007 decision by Sotomayor -- on U.S. EPA's use of cost-benefit analysis in the regulation of pollutants -- as a signal that the potential future justice may side with them on a number of issues.

In that case, Riverkeeper v. EPA, an environmental group challenged an EPA rule relating to cooling-water intake structures in power plants. The agency was set to require hundreds of power plants to modify their water cooling systems, which cumulatively caused the deaths of millions of fish every year.

But the agency sought to choose the "best technology" for the upgrade, using a cost-benefit analysis that was based on both the price of the newer equipment and the potential marine life that would be killed. The top-of-the-line technology could reduce fish kills by as much as 98 percent, though it cost roughly 10 times as much as a different type of equipment that would reduce deaths by a smaller amount.

Sotomayor issued an opinion in which she declared that the Clean Water Act did not give EPA the leeway to do such a cost-benefit analysis.

In early 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision in a 6-3 ruling, with Justice Antonin Scalia stating in an opinion that EPA could use such an analysis in crafting its regulations.

Bet, you didn’t think the selection of Supreme Court justice could effect your power and cooling infrastructure.