Case Summary Citation

734 F.3d 188 (3d Cir. 2013).



This case addressed the issue of whether the Clean Air Act (CAA) preempts state law tort claims of private landowners brought in the state where emissions are occurring. Additionally, the case determined whether the political question doctrine barred the complaint as a policy-making decision constitutionally allocated to the U.S. Congress. The court decided that the cooperative purpose of the CAA is not frustrated when actions are brought under the law of the pollution’s source state, rather than the state law of affected parties. The federal regulations serve as a floor that state law may exceed but not lower. The court also determined that no court has ever held, under the political question doctrine, that the legislative branch carries constitutional authority to redress private property rights regarding air pollution, so the claim was constitutional. It was thus proper for the Bell parties to seek redress for individual tort damages under the CAA.

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