The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington in a 2-1 ruling today struck down the EPA’s cross-state air pollution rule, saying the agency overstepped its legal authority and issued standards that were too strict. The court sided with power companies and mining groups challenging to the measure, which caps emissions in more than two dozen states. The rule had been put on hold by the court in December while it considered the regulation’s legality.
“It is not our job to set environmental policy,” Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the 60-page opinion. “Our limited but important role is to independently ensure that the agency stays within the boundaries Congress has set. EPA did not do so here.”
The court’s decision, which sparked a rally in coal stocks, could leave the EPA with years of work to replace a regulation the agency said would have “dramatic” health benefits for 240 million people, Whitney Stanco, senior energy policy analyst at Guggenheim Securities LLC, said.
The court ordered the agency to continue to enforce a 2005 measure known as the Clean Air Interstate Rule until a viable replacement to the cross-state regulation can be issued.
American Electric Power Company Inc., the largest U.S. coal consumer, said the air quality goals that the cross-state ruled targeted would be achieved by the 2005 rule that remains in place.
“Air emissions from AEP’s coal-fueled power plants are nearly 80 percent less than they were just a decade ago,” Pat Hemlepp, a spokesman for Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric said in an e-mail. “We are willing to move forward to make additional emission reductions, but we believe it can be done in a more reasonable way.”
The EPA rules, which applied to Texas and 27 eastern states, would have imposed caps on sulfur dioxide, which can lead to acid rain and soot harmful to humans and ecosystems, and nitrogen oxide, a component of ground-level ozone and a main ingredient of smog.
I’m flabbergasted that some judges could understand the unreasonable nature of the rules put forward by the EPA. Well done!