Cal. Supreme Court Sends Air Quality Controls Back to the Future

By Robyn Hagan Cain on June 28, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Unlike Star Wars Day, which is a very real phenomenon, (May the 4th be with you), Wednesday’s Back to the Future Day turned out to be an elaborate, Photoshop-manufactured hoax.

In case you weren’t wasting your time on Facebook this week, the buzz on the Internet was that June 27, 2012 was the future date that Marty McFly and Doc Brown visited in Back to the Future II. That “future” however, is actually October 21, 2015, more than three years away, reports the Los Angeles Times.

For those among you who want a piece of the future today, the California Supreme Court has a solution: air quality controls.

The American Coatings Association (Association) sued the South Coast Air Quality Management District (District), which regulates pollution from sources other than vehicles, challenging the District's air quality control standards that limited pollution-causing substances in paints and other coatings, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The standards in question were based on expected future technologies when they were adopted in 1999. The District required full compliance by July 2006. According to the Association, businesses can't incorporate new technology that quickly.

The Association argued that new rules should rely on the best available technology at the time a regulation is promulgated. Otherwise, regulations would drive manufacturers out of the market because they wouldn't be able to adapt their products to incorporate new technologies in time to comply. The California Supreme Court, siding with the District, disagreed, reports The Associated Press.

The California Supreme Court's newest jurist, Justice Goodwin Liu, wrote the opinion, concluding "the relevant statutes give the District the authority to promulgate pollution standards based on technologies that do not currently exist but are reasonably anticipated to exist by the compliance deadline. In addition, we conclude that the District sufficiently demonstrated that its challenged emissions limits were achievable in each category and that the categories were reasonably drawn."

Do you agree? Should businesses be bound to deadlines to incorporate technology that could exist in the future?

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