Supreme Court Ruling Empowers EPA

Brune said protecting the public from cross-state air pollution will prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths annually, help American families avoid 19,000 emergency room visits and prevent 1.8 million missed work and school days each year. The rule will also save Americans up to $280 billion in annual health and environmental costs.

But the benefits were not immediately embraced by all. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ranking member on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, called the decision “devastating” and said that it “sets the precedent for federal bureaucrats to take great liberties in interpreting and implementing the Clean Air Act.”

“This allows them to completely ignore the concept of cooperative federalism that requires them to work with states in crafting plans to address air pollution,” Vitter said. “Obama’s EPA is already averaging 10 new regulations a day. I worry for the future of our states, EPA’s role in responsibly implementing the Clean Air Act and the destructive impact this could have on our economy.”

Laura Sheehan, senior vice president for communications at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group, characterized the ruling as “dangerous and costly.”

“EPA continues to abuse the Clean Air Act, imposing overreaching regulations that promise little ‘gain’ with great ‘pain’ for American consumers and the broader American economy,” Sheehan said. “With the Supreme Court’s ruling today, we are profoundly concerned about the costs and reliability impacts of rules like the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the absence of oversight in identifying and addressing such concerns. While CSAPR is just one example of President Obama’s climate crusade, EPA’s forthcoming carbon rule on existing generating units promises to be the most flagrant and costly abuse of the Clean Air Act to date.”

Coal remains the leading fuel source for electricity generation in the U.S. despite a recent shift toward natural gas, providing nearly 40 percent of the country’s baseload power. The industry has invested $130 billion to reduce major emissions from coal-fueled power plants by almost nearly 90 percent. The industry plans to invest another $100 billion over the next decade to develop and deploy clean coal technology.

The Supreme Court ruling reversed an August 2012 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which held the EPA had exceeded its authority in targeting certain states. The decision was appealed by the Obama administration.

Attorneys general from 14 states, led by Texas, fought against the rule in court, joined by Entergy Corp., Edison International, Peabody Energy Corp. the United Mine Workers of America and several others.