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Boeing Co. v. Movassaghi

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20215
Nos. 11-55903, (9th Cir., 09/19/2014)

The Ninth Circuit invalidated a California law that prescribes cleanup standards for radioactive contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former federal nuclear testing facility near Los Angeles. The law, Senate Bill 990, requires that the site be made suitable for subsistence farming, a more demanding standard than that imposed by a plan adopted by DOE. Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, states may not regulate activities of the federal government. As such, states may not regulate the federal government directly. Nor may state laws discriminate against the federal government or those with whom it deals. Here, the law directly regulates DOE's cleanup activities. The law affects nearly all of DOE’s decisions with respect to the cleanup, including the environmental sampling that is required, the cleanup procedures to be used, and the money and time that will be spent. In addition, because the law applies more stringent cleanup standards than generally applicable state environmental law, it discriminates against the federal government and a federal contractor hired to perform the cleanup of the site. The law, therefore, violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity.