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Supreme Court may revive economy-crushing EPA rule

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

The Supreme Court may revive a costly Environmental Protection Agency coal-fired power plant emissions rule that was struck down by courts last year.

The controversial rule was criticized as one of the costliest EPA regulations ever issued under the Clean Air Act.

The court could revive the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, which was stuck down by a federal court for going beyond the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act.

“In this case, however, we conclude that EPA has transgressed statutory boundaries,” stated the opinion by Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2012. “Therefore, the rule must be vacated.”

CSAPR would have required sharp reductions in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in 28 eastern states, including coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants — by one estimate, costing $853 million annually.

“The U.S. Supreme Court is likely taking this case in order to reverse the D.C. Circuit panel’s decision that is contrary to law and would further delay long-needed clean air standards necessary to protect our public health,” Howard Lerner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said a statement.

The Obama administration is looking to have the policy reinstated, but 14 states, led by Texas; several power companies; and the United Mine Workers of America urged the court not to take up the case.

A study done last year by the Institute for Energy Research found that CSAPR and another costly EPA rule — Mercury Air Toxics Standards — would shutter more than 10 percent of the country’s coal-fired power generation.

“We believe that the Supreme Court will uphold the EPA’s scientific and technical expertise in moving forward to clean up the air we breathe, reduce asthma and protect public health, especially for children and the elderly,” Lerner added.

According to the EPA the rule would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths a year as well as generate up to $280 billion in economic benefits.

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