U.S. News


1,000 Coal Plants Affected By Supreme Court's EPA Ruling

Under a ruling that revives a 2011 EPA regulation, coal power plants will be forced to reduce pollution that blows across state borders.
Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 29, 2014

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the EPA can regulate coal-plant emissions that blow across state borders. In other words, states will have to play nice — and clean — with their neighbors.

"The court's decision means that a rule adapted by the EPA in 2011 to limit emissions from plants in more than two dozen states in the Midwest and South can take effect." (Via WJBK)

"The sulpher dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution has been drifting into the air above East Coast states for some time." (Via WEAU)

The 6-2 decision effectively adds what's being called the "Good Neighbor" rule under the Clean Air Act. It allows the EPA to regulate interstate pollution in an effort to keep national air quality high. (Via Clean Air Council)

For example, in court documents, the EPA says 93 percent of the air pollution plaguing New Haven, Conn., is blown in from neighboring states. (Via Google)

In order to prevent traveling smog, states will have to impose costly pollution control procedures on coal-fueled power plants or reduce operations. Some of the older plants that can't be adapted will likely be shut down. 

The Wall Street Journalshows which states will be regulated under the rule and for what type of emission. This will affect about 1,000 power plants total.

The EPA estimates the regulation should prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths related to air pollution every year and help reduce heart attacks and cases of aggravated asthma. (ViaEPA)

The original 2011 EPA rule was overturned in 2012 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit when power companies and political conservatives filed lawsuits against the legislation. They said the proposed law would add to the "war on coal." 

In his dissenting opinion against the decision, Supreme Court Justice Antony Scalia related the regulation to Marxism and said it isn't fairly applied to all states. (Via The New York Times)

Though Politico quotes John Walke, clean air program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, as saying, "This is great news for millions of people who suffer from serious health problems caused by the soot and smog-causing pollution from power plants in other states."

The decision is a big victory for the Obama administration, which has pushed a more environmental agenda in its second term. Two weeks ago, another court ruling enforced a reduction in mercury and air toxins at coal and oil plants. (ViaThe White House)

The EPA is expected to use the Clean Air Act to impose new, strong regulations on coal pollution in June.