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The U.S. Supreme Court's 1993-1994 Term

December 1994

Citation: 24 ELR 10719

Issue: 12

Author: Edward B. Sears

The U.S. Supreme Court handled an all-time high of over 7,700 cases in the 1993-1994 Term.1 The number and variety of environmental law cases on which the Court acted reflects this achievement. General numbers-counting analyses that estimate each Justice's political position as conservative, centrist, or liberal based on the Justices' voting patterns have concluded that the Court maintained a generally conservative stance.2 The outcomes in some of the Court's significant environmental decisions, however, belie such appraisals.3

States and environmentalists won a case allowing a state agency to consider instream flow in addressing a state water quality certification application under § 401 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA),4 and an environmental group won a case requiring that municipal solid waste incinerator combustion ash be treated as hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).5 In other cases, the Court frustrated an industry attempt to recover attorneys fees incurred in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) cost recovery action,6 a state's efforts to control or limit the amount of waste imported into the state,7 and municipalities' efforts to maintain flow control over garbage generated within their boundaries.8 In another case, the Court established a new two-step test to be applied in certain takings analyses.9 The federal government, industry, and citizen groups all faced setbacks when the Court denied petitions for certiorari in particular cases.

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