Supreme Court blocks coal fired power plant rule, calling on costs to be taken into account

06/29/2015 02:04 PM

UPDATED: With another split decision the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must take cost into account while calling on a limit to emissions of mercury and other toxins from coal fired power plants.

The case stems from a 2011 rule to reduce airborne pollutants from coal fired plants.

The case, Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, decides the matter. Monday’s decision will reverse a federal appeals courts upholding of the tougher standards.

In the 5 to 4 decision Justice Scalia wrote that, “It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. Statutory context supports this reading,” according to the New York Times.

Kentucky was one of more than 20 states to challenge the law under Attorney General Jack Conway.

In a statement sent to the media on Monday, Conway said that the EPA’s actions “would have raised utility rates and cost Kentucky jobs.”

“As Attorney General, I have consistently fought for the people of Kentucky against this EPA in its never-ending attempt to overreach and overregulate,” Conway said. “I appreciate the Supreme Court’s consideration and affirmation of our position, and I’ll continue fighting against EPA rulemaking that harms Kentucky coal production and electricity rates.”

Bill Bissett, President of the Kentucky Coal Association, said the ruling which strikes down the regulations is “good news for coal mining, coal using states like Kentucky.”

“We have told electric utilities and the public that many of the Obama Administration’s anti-coal policies would not pass legal scrutiny, and it is good to see this prediction hold true regarding the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards,” Bissett said.

“In a similar way, we expect the proposed Greenhouse Gas regulations to be found unconstitutional and lose in legal challenges. By placing their ideology over the rule of law, the anti-coal legacy of the Obama Administration and its EPA is being stopped by the courts.”

While the rule is rooted under President Barack Obama’s administration former President George W. Bush also attempted to cut back on mercury pollution.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, called Monday’s ruling a “cutting rebuke to the administration’s callous attitude.”

“Obama Administration officials like to pretend that the costs of their massive and regressive regulations either don’t exist or don’t matter,” McConnell said in a statement. “Middle-class families in Kentucky and across our country don’t have that luxury, and are often the first to suffer.”

McConnell said “much of the damage of this regulation has already been done, the ruling serves as a critical reminder to every governor contemplating the administration’s demands to impose more regressive – and likely illegal – regulations that promise even more middle-class pain.”

“Clearly, there is no reason to subject their states to such unnecessary pain before the courts have even had a chance to weigh in, especially if the Supreme Court simply ends up tossing the regulation out as we saw today.”

The EPA finalized a rule calling on states to limit the amount of carbon emissions allowed into the atmospehere this year. The rule mandates that Kentucky cut emissions to 18 percent of its 2012 totals by 2030.

Conway already brought suit against the proposed law before it was finalized, but a federal court booted the challenge calling the suit premature.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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