Oregon Waste Systems, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Quality of Oregon

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Oregon Waste Systems, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Quality of Oregon
Argued January 18, 1994
Decided April 4, 1994
Full case nameOregon Waste Systems, Inc., et al. v. Department of Environmental Quality of Oregon, et al.
Citations511 U.S. 93 (more)
114 S. Ct. 1345; 128 L. Ed. 2d 13
Case history
Prior316 Ore. 99 (reversed and remanded).
Oregon's surcharge was invalid under the dormant commerce clause
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
Harry Blackmun · John P. Stevens
Sandra Day O'Connor · Antonin Scalia
Anthony Kennedy · David Souter
Clarence Thomas · Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Case opinions
MajorityThomas, joined by Stevens, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg
DissentRehnquist, joined by Blackmun
Laws applied
U.S. Const. art. I § 8 cl. 3 (Commerce Clause), Dormant Commerce Clause

Oregon Waste Systems, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Quality of Oregon, 511 U.S. 93 (1994), is a United States Supreme Court decision focused on the aspect of state power and the interpretation of the Commerce Clause as a limitation on states' regulatory power. In this particular case, the Supreme Court considered whether the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's alleged cost-based surcharge on the disposal of out-of-state waste violated the dormant commerce clause.[1]

Opinion of the Court[edit]

The Court voted 7–2 in favor of Oregon Waste Systems, holding that Oregon's surcharge was invalid under the negative commerce clause. This meant that the surcharge favored in-state economic interests over out-of-state counterparts. The surcharge was discriminatory to outside states because it imposed a fee three times greater than that imposed on in-state waste.[2]

In order for such a surcharge to be valid, it would have to be justified as compensatory, in that it makes out-of-state shippers pay their fair share of the disposal costs. This would have to be equivalent to a measurable standard that would be the same for in-state shipping. However, Oregon's surcharge of $2.25 for out-of-state waste compared with a surcharge of $0.85 on in-state waste was determined facially discriminatory. Citing a previous case, the Supreme Court indicated that such surcharges may be acceptable if they were based on increased costs specifically associated with out-of-state waste.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stephens, Otis. American Constitutional Law Volume 1. Thomson Wadsworth. USA, 2003
  2. ^ Supreme Court Collection. Cornell University Law School. Legal Information Institute

External links[edit]