Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Court refuses to overturn air pollution rule despite Supreme Court defeat

An appeals court has upheld the Obama administration’s sweeping mercury pollution rule for power plants, despite a Supreme Court decision against the regulation.  The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is allowed to enforce the air pollution regulation while it works to fix the flaw identified by the high court.  The Supreme Court ruled in June that in developing the mercury and air toxics standards, the EPA violated the Clean Air Act by not considering the compliance costs to electric utilities.

The agency did consider costs in writing the rule, but the justices decided that a unique provision in the law requires a cost-benefit analysis before even starting to write it.
The Supreme Court did not overturn the rule and left it to the Circuit Court to decide its fate. The EPA plans to fix the problem by April by simply reasserting the cost-benefit analysis that it already completed. The Circuit Court judges did not say why they reached their decision in the brief order, although they noted that the EPA has promised a fix by April 16.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said ... “These practical and achievable standards are already cutting pollution from power plants that will save thousands of lives each year and prevent heart and asthma attacks,” she said. “The standards also slash emissions of the neurotoxin mercury, which can impair children’s ability to learn.”  Harrison noted that the majority of power plants affected by the rule are already operating the necessary controls to comply.

A group of states and energy companies had asked the Circuit Court to vacate the rule....

By Timothy Cama
The Hill  www.TheHill.com
December 16, 2015

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