Skip to comments.Court strikes down major pollution rule (EPA loses)
Posted on 08/21/2012 10:15:54 AM PDT by jazusamo
A federal court has struck down an Environmental Protection Agency rule that forces cuts in soot- and smog-forming power plant emissions that cross state lines, dealing a major blow to the White House's air quality agenda.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that forces cuts from plants in 28 states in the eastern half of the country, finding that it exceeds EPAs powers under the Clean Air Act.
The 2-1 court decision Tuesday is a victory for industry groups, some states and GOP lawmakers, who alleged the rule would create economic burdens and force the closure of substantial numbers of coal-fired power plants.
The court decision instructs EPA to continue administering a less aggressive, George W. Bush-era rule called the Clean Air Interstate Rule.
The judges said the Obama administration rule allows EPA to impose massive emissions reduction requirements on upwind states without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text.
Several states, including Texas, Alabama and Georgia, challenged the rule alongside the National Mining Association, power companies and other parties. But other states such as New York and Delaware, as well as environmental groups, joined the case in defense of EPA.
Capitol Hill Republicans have taken aim at the rule, passing legislation in the House to scuttle it and force EPA to re-write the restrictions. But a bid to nix the rule in the Senate fell well short of the needed votes last November.
Environmentalists lamented the ruling.
The court's decision significantly imperils long overdue clean air safeguards for millions of Americans, said Vickie Patton, general counsel of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in a statement. EDF will immediately seek corrective action to protect the lives of Americans harmed by power plant smokestack pollution.
EPA, when finalizing the rule in the summer of 2011, said substantially cutting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would bring public health benefits that far outstrip the projected costs.
The agency estimated that the rule, when phased in, would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks and 19,000 cases of acute bronchitis annually.
The two judges who vacated the rule said they were not commenting on the wisdom or policy merits of the rule.
They said they vacated the rule because it runs afoul of EPAs power under the air laws good neighbor provisions, which enable the agency to force reductions in emissions that pollute the air in downwind states.
They noted that Congress gave EPA the power to require upwind states to reduce pollution that contributes to downwind states failure to meet federal air quality standards. However, under the Cross-State rule, the judges said that upwind States may be required to reduce emissions by more than their own significant contributions to a downwind States nonattainment.
The judges also said the rule didnt give states an initial opportunity to make reductions from pollution sources within their borders. Instead, EPA quantified States good neighbor obligations and simultaneously set forth EPA-designed Federal Implementation Plans, or FIPs, to implement those obligations at the State level. By doing so, EPA departed from its consistent prior approach to implementing the good neighbor provision and violated the Act, the ruling states.
The decision was cheered by the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a group that represents power companies with coal-fired plants. The group said the ruling is a shot across EPAs bow that leaves adequate protections in place.
Not only in this interstate rule case, but also in regional haze rules, consideration of implementation plans, and in permitting decisions, EPA has not showed sufficient respect or deference to state programs. Todays decision is a stern warning against EPAs recent views, the group said.
For a kid from the midwest on his first trip to SoCal, it was pretty impressive.
Kind of amazing that Ontario Speedway only lasted 10 years.
And then 17 years later they built Fontana, only a couple miles down the interstate.
What a waste. I can't remember what all was put in there after it was leveled but it was probably homes and shopping.
Yup, but people will still continue to vote for people based on the "R" beside their name.
Jazusamo: You re absolutely right about the once needed role of an active EPA. I remember seeing a yellow cloud over the Golden Gate Bridge and wondering what it was (1970, on my way to visit Nam).
However, Clinton appointed Marxist Carol Browner (ISO) as the head of the EPA in the mid-90’s and it has been downhill ever since.
Bush missed his chance to revamp the EPA and get rid of the environ-wackos. Obama filled the place up with marxists and weirdos and voodoo scientists.
Now you’d have to fumigate the place to clean the reds and wackos out.
[Not all EPA employees are leftists. Many are dedicated people who don’t believe in all this marxist crap].
Now, phasing out the coal-powered plants wouldn't be as harmful if it weren't so damned difficult to approve gas-powered plants [not to mention the loss of the immensely profitable coal industry.]
Until the current administration is turned out of office, court rulings like this one, though gratifying, will not halt the destruction of America's coal industry and the weakening of our power grid.
Obama has to go in this election. Period!!
Well, you lived in the foothills, pal, and the constant temperature-inversion trapped all the automotive and Industrial crap. You only got relief when the Santa Anna winds blew that shit into the desert.
"...Not all things in the 70s that the states and the EPA did were bad, they were responsible for many needed improvements. The problem is that for the last 20 or so years they've gone to the extreme and have had the backing of the enviro wacko movement. They now need to disappear..."
I agree that the EPA needs to be reined-in, but remember that So-Cal still has that inversion problem, so plug all the chimmleys ............................................ FRegards
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I predict that the EPA will simply ignore the court’s ruling and do what they want to do.
The Sackett’s are still fighting those a$$holes in court IN SPITE of the ruling by the supremes.
There are umteen times the autos down there now as there were in the 50s, 60s and 70s but regulations for autos and industry have cleaned the place up tremendously.
There needs to be something similar to an office of civil rights, or GAO, that's not focused on racial civil rights or accounting audits, but rather abuses of the Federal government.
This office need to step in, investigate and fight for the rights of individuals when any branch of the Federal government oversteps or fails to preform it's duties. They need to close the loopholes in legislation when rights are violated. But in no event should they be able to delay existing forms of redress. And they probably should answer to Congress not the Executive.