The Supreme Court today refused to allow unacceptable challenges to the ability of a community to regulate and protect environmental quality within their jursidictions.
In a 6-3 decision, the majority ruled against landowners who sought to develop parcels within the Lake Tahoe watershed but were prevented from doing so by strong land use protections inacted by local governments. Lake Tahoe was once one of the clearest lakes in the world but decades of development have added pollutants and caused eutrophication to accelerate. Further development at the level that would have ensued had the Supremes ruled the other way would have certainly delivered a knock-out punch to the Lake's ecosystem.
Read the majority and minority opinions in the case, Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, No. 00-1167, on the Supreme Court web site:www.supremecourt.gov.
See: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/23/national/23CND-PROP.html for the story.
This decision should help jurisdictions in Michigan and elsewhere that seek to protect natural resources and environmental quality (since the Engler administration won't) at the local level through enactment and enforcement of strong land use protections.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were the three dissenters.
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