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What Does the Health Care Ruling Mean for Environmental Law?

July 31, 2012

Most environmental laws—such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and CERCLA—are based on the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce. The recent constitutional challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its "individual mandate" to purchase health insurance seemed certain to write a new chapter in Commerce Clause jurisprudence—with potential implications for environmental laws. The U.S. Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius heard arguments that Congress cannot compel individuals to enter commerce by purchasing health insurance and that doing so would exceed Congress