Appeals Court Overturns EPA Rule Limiting Cross-State Coal Plant Pollution

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Environmentalists blasted a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, this week for striking down a new federal rule intended to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants.


In a 2-to-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exceeded its authority in adopting the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in 2011.


The regulation required 28 states in the East, Midwest and South to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that cross state lines and pollute the air of downwind states. Reducing these emissions would have added costly changes for power plants that burn coal to generate electricity, so the coal power industry praised the two judges who voted in their favor.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), on the other hand, reacted angrily to news of the decision.


“This decision allows harmful power plant air pollution to continue to aggravate major health problems and foul up our air. This is a loss for all of us, but especially for those living downwind from major polluters,” said John Walke, clean air director at the NRDC, in a prepared statement.


The EPA estimated that if the rule was implemented, it would prevent at least 13,000 premature deaths, 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits, 1.8 million days when people miss work or school and 400,000 cases of aggravated asthma…each year.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Divided U.S. Appeals Court Rejects EPA Air Protections For 240 Million Americans (Natural Resources Defense Council)

EME Homer City Generation v. EPA (U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia) (pdf)

240 Million Americans Will Breathe Easier Thanks to New Clean Air Protections (by John Walke, Natural Resources Defense Council Blog)

Big Coal Polluters Get a Pass in Obama’s Environmental Plan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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