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E-M:/ FW: Alito Confirmation Puts Clean Water, Air Laws at Risk

Enviro-Mich message from "Rita Jack" <rita.jack@sierraclub.org>

Subject: Alito Confirmation Puts Clean Water, Air Laws at Risk

For Immediate Release:
January 31, 2006

David Willett, 202-675-6698

           Alito Confirmation Puts Clean Water, Air Laws at Risk

Washington, DC: The Sierra Club praised those Senators who voted against
Judge Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court today.  The group also
expressed disappointment in those Senators who, by voting for confirmation,
ignored the threat Judge Alito's philosophy poses to environmental
protection.  Unfortunately, Judge Alito was confirmed to a lifetime
appointment by a final vote of 58-42.

"Judge Alito poses a serious threat to the environmental protections we
cherish. We applaud those Senators who recognized that the ability to
protect our clean air and clean water are at stake," said Carl Pope,
Executive Director of the Sierra Club.  "Those Senators who voted for Judge
Alito are putting hard-won protections at risk."

Sierra Club's opposition to Judge Alito's confirmation rested on his
Constitutional philosophy, which threatens both the ability of Congress to
pass laws to protect the environment, and the ability of citizens to
enforce those laws.
Judge Alito ruled (in Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) v. Magnesium
Elektron) that the Constitution barred citizens from enforcing the Clean
Water Act even against a company that admitted it had been violating the
law for years. The Magnesium Elektron decision threatened to put a stop to
most Clean Water Act enforcement. Fortunately, the Supreme Court
effectively reversed this decision three years later in another case.

In U.S. v. Rybar, Judge Alito dissented from a decision upholding Congress'
power under the Commerce Clause to regulate the possession of machine guns
Coming after six other federal appeals courts had upheld the same law,
Judge Alito's reasoning is extremely troubling because it could translate
into limits on Congress' authority to protect our water and air.

These seemingly abstract Constitutional issues will have significant
consequences in the short term. Now that he has been confirmed, Judge Alito
will be ruling on two Clean Water Act cases now pending before the Supreme
Court and deciding  whether this same Constitutional provision, the
Commerce Clause, gives Congress the authority to protect any of America's
streams and wetlands (US v. Rapanos and US v. Carabell). This same
philosophy could eventually jeopardize all of the environmental laws that
protect clean air, clean water, endangered species and more.


David Willett
National Press Secretary
Sierra Club
(202) 675-6698 (w)
(202) 491-6919 (m)

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