Federal appeals court throws out EPA cross-state rule
Written byJEREMY JACOBS, Greenwire
A federal appeals court today threw out U.S. EPA's air pollution rule for emissions that cross state lines, a landmark Obama administration regulation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that EPA exceeded its statutory authority with the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, in EME Homer City Generation, L.P v. EPA. Judge Judith Rogers dissented.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the majority, wrote: "Absent a claim of constitutional authority (and there is none here), executive agencies may exercise only the authority conferred by statute, and agencies may not transgress statutory limits on that authority."
Led by Texas, more than a dozen states and several power companies last year challenged the rule, which affects 28 Eastern states. The court issued a last-minute stay of the regulations at the end of December 2011 before they were set to go into effect on Jan. 1, leaving the Clean Air Interstate Rule, or CAIR, in place.
The court also called for an accelerated briefing schedule and heard arguments in April, a sign that it wanted to resolve the case quickly.
EPA has argued that CSAPR would lead to reductions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 50 percent each from 2005 levels by 2014. The agency says it would cost the power sector about $800 million per year. EPA estimates the rule would result in up to $280 billion in health benefits, including the avoidance of more than 30,000 premature deaths and 15,000 heart attacks every year.
The rule's challengers argue the regulations would put an undue strain on the country's electric grid as plants were either retired or taken off line to install new pollution controls. Under CSAPR, plants would either have to add emissions controls such as scrubbers or purchase credits from a trading system.
EPA was required to develop CSAPR after the same court threw our CAIR in 2008 for not doing enough to protect public health.