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Alliance for Clean Coal v. Miller

44 F.3d 591 (1995)

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Alliance for Clean Coal v. Miller

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

44 F.3d 591 (1995)

Facts

Burning coal emitted levels of sulfur dioxide proportional to the coal’s sulfur content. Coal mined west of the Rocky Mountains generally had the lowest sulfur content, whereas coal mined in Illinois had relatively high levels of sulfur. In the 1970 Amendment to the Clean Air Act (CAA), Congress authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set new standards to regulate various emissions, including sulfur dioxide. The EPA’s methods to control sulfur dioxide emissions included the use of low-sulfur coal and the use of pollution control devices (scrubbers). Burning low-sulfur coal from the west served as an alternative to burning high-sulfur coal combined with the installation of expensive scrubbers. In 1991, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Coal Act to protect the local coal industry. The Coal Act required utilities to formulate CAA compliance plans and obtain approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission (defendant). The Coal Act contained provisions that required the commissioner to take into account the effects on the local coal industry when considering compliance plans, required the installation of scrubbers to burn Illinois coal, and required Commerce Commission approval when a facility sought to make a fuel reduction that would result in a 10 percent decrease or more in the utility’s use of Illinois coal. Alliance for Clean Coal (Alliance) (plaintiff) challenged the constitutionality of the Coal Act under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, arguing that it amounted to discriminatory state action. Illinois argued that the act merely encouraged the local coal industry and was not discriminatory.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cummings, J.)

Concurrence (Cudahy, J.)

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