Pollution action exceeding US legislation ruled out

Despite arguments that dumping of raw sewage is turning Lake Michigan into a cesspool, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that courts may not impose tougher sewage treatment standards than those set by Congress. The justices threw out a lower-court order requiring the city of Milwaukee to stop discharging untreated sewage into Lake Michigan.

The decision is a defeat for environmentalists and the States of Illinois and Michigan, which filed suit 10 years ago to halt the recurring pollution of Lake Michigan.

In another opinion likely to be criticized by environmentalists, the court unanimously ruled that private citizens may not sue to enforce one of the nation's most important conservation laws. The ruling came in a California case in which the high court reversed lower federal courts which said individuals trying to block the California Water Project could sue under the 1899 Rivers a nd Harbors Appropriation Act.

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