New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit

No. 91-543. Argued March 30, 1992—Decided June 19, 1992*

Faced with a looming shortage of disposal sites for low level radioactive waste in 31 States, Congress enacted the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985, which, among other things, imposes upon States, either alone or in "regional compacts" with other States, the obligation to provide for the disposal of waste generated within their borders, and contains three provisions setting forth "incentives" to States to comply with that obligation. The first set of incentives—the monetary incentives—works in three steps: (1) States with disposal sites are authorized to impose a surcharge on radioactive waste received from other States; (2) the Secretary of Energy collects a portion of this surcharge and places it in an escrow account; and (3) States achieving a series of milestones in developing sites receive portions of this fund. The second set of incentives—the access incentives—authorizes sited States and regional compacts gradually to increase the cost of access to their sites, and then to deny access altogether, to waste generated in States that do not meet federal deadlines. The so-called third "incentive"—the take title provision—specifies that a State or regional compact that fails to provide for the disposal of all internally generated waste by a particular date must, upon the request of the waste's generator or owner, take title to and possession of the waste and become liable for all damages suffered by the generator or owner as a result of the State's failure to promptly take possession. Petitioners, New York State and two of its counties, filed this suit against the United States, seeking a declaratory judgment that, inter alia, the three incentives provisions are inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment—which declares that "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States"—and with the Guarantee Clause of Article IV, 4—which directs the United States to "guarantee to every State . . . a Republican Form of Government." The District Court dismissed the complaint, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

*Together with No. 91-558, County of Allegany, New York v. United States et al., and No. 91-563, County of Cortland, New York v. United States et al., also on certiorari to the same court.

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