Energy Report

Court Ruling Sets Back EPA Mercury Standards

Date: July 30, 2015

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by Brian Sewell

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not properly consider the price of a rule to curb mercury pollution and other toxic emissions from coal plants.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standard is one of the Obama administration’s most significant efforts to combat harmful air pollution and protect public health. But industry groups and several states sued the EPA soon after the rule was finalized in 2011 for not factoring in compliance costs when it decided regulating mercury is “appropriate and necessary.”

The EPA argues that the projected annual $9.6 billion compliance cost of the rule is well exceeded by an estimated $80 billion in health benefits each year.

The 5-4 ruling sends the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which could order the EPA to revise the mercury rule or to craft a new plan altogether. Until then, the rule remains in effect.

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