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Is the Clean Air Act Unconstitutional?

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

August 1999

Michigan Law Review, November 1999

This article argues (1) against revival of the nondelegation doctrine, and (2) in favor of a kind of "democracy-forcing minimalism" for administrative law. As against a prominent recent trend in the DC Circuit, it claims that the nondelegation doctrine should be reserved only for the most egregious cases and that its appropriate use is in tools of statutory construction and certain "nondelegation canons." The Clean Air Act is constitutional because it sets floors and ceilings on agency action. But in issuing ambient air quality standards, the EPA should be required to compare the chosen standard with at least two alternatives, one more stringent and one less stringent; it should quantify the benefits of the three options, to the extent feasible; and it should explain why the chosen alternative is preferable in terms of the "residual risk." Reviewing courts should require the EPA to perform this task, usually by "remanding without invalidating" inadequately justified air quality regulations. There is discussion as well of possible amendments to the Clean Air Act.

Note: This article formerly was Univ. of Chicago Law School, Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 03

Number of Pages in PDF File: 106

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Date posted: August 27, 1999  

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., Is the Clean Air Act Unconstitutional? (August 1999). Michigan Law Review, November 1999 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=177688 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.177688

Contact Information

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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