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Pennsylvania Dep't of Envtl. Resources v. Pennsylvania Power Co.

Citation: 10 ELR 20941
No. No. 113, 416 A.2d 995/14 ERC 1796/490 Pa. 399, (Pa., 07/03/1980)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of air pollution emission limitations that are "technology-forcing," i.e., incapable of being met with the best technology currently available and requiring development of new technology. After being fined administratively for noncompliance with the requirements of the Pennsylvania state implementation plan (SIP), appellee successfully challenged the penalty in the lower court on the ground that a requirement for better-than-existing technology was irrational and constituted an unconstitutional taking of private property. The Supreme Court disagrees, noting that the intent of Congress in enacting the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970, which the Pennsylvania SIP implements, was to force advances in pollution control technology beyond the existing state of development. Such a scheme reflects a legislative judgment that certain minimum levels of air quality are necessary, notwithstanding the imposition of possibly onerous economic burdens upon industry. Moreover, this type of requirement represents a very effective means of spurring the evolution of pollution control techniques. Since this concept has been embraced by Congress and the state legislature and has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court and the courts of Pennsylvania, the court finds it valid and reverses the lower court.

Counsel for Appellants
Ward T. Kelsey, Elissa A. Parker, Ass't Attorneys General
14th Floor, Allegheny Bldg., 429 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15219
(412) 565-7680

Counsel for Appellee
William R. Balph Jr.
Chambers, O'Neill, Nicolls, Balph & Paul
306 Central Bldg., 101 S. Mercer St., New Castle PA 16101
(412) 658-2666

John Cramer
Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay
P.O. Box 2009, Pittsburgh PA 15230
(412) 288-3131

Before EAGEN, C.J., and O'BRIEN, ROBERTS, NIX, LARSEN, FLAHERTY and KAUFFMAN, JJ.