WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court has agreed to take up two weighty issues this fall, involving prosecutorial immunity and the role of cost-benefit analysis in establishing standards under the Clean Water Act.
In Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, the high court will decide whether Los Angeles County’s former top prosecutor and his deputy are immune from a lawsuit filed by a man whose murder conviction was overturned after he spent 24 years in prison. Thomas Goldstein claims former district attorney John Van de Kamp is not entitled to prosecutorial immunity because of his policy of using jailhouse informants, who receive lighter sentences for testifying against defendants, to get convictions.
The Supreme Court also accepted the consolidated appeals of Entergy Corp v. EPA, PSEG Fossil v. Riverkeeper and Utility Water Act Group v. Riverkeeper. The cases question an Environmental Protection Agency provision meant to ensure that operators of large industrial plants are complying with the Clean Water Act.
The EPA allowed the industry to meet “national performance standards” on a plant-by-plant basis, and said operators could request a variance if the cost of complying was “significantly greater” than any environmental benefits. The 2nd Circuit ruled that the EPA lacked the authority to engage in this type of cost-benefit analysis. Environmental groups, led by Riverkeeper, are urging the high court to uphold the 2nd Circuit’s rejection of the EPA’s industrial indulgences.