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
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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