The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Obama administration’s costly regulations levied on coal-fired power plants, saying in a 5-4 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency should have taken into account the rule’s pricey impacts.
Writing for the majority in a conservative-liberal split, Justice Antonin Scalia said the EPA “strayed well beyond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants.”
“EPA’s decision to regulate power plants under §7412 allowed the Agency to reduce power plants’ emissions of hazardous air pollutants and thus to improve public health and the environment. But the decision also ultimately cost power plants, according to the Agency’s own estimate, nearly $10 billion a year. EPA refused to consider whether the costs of its decision outweighed the benefits. The Agency gave cost no thought at all, because it considered cost irrelevant to its initial decision to regulate.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the minority that “the majority’s decision that EPA cannot take the same approach here — its micromanagement of EPA’s rulemaking, based on little more than the word ‘appropriate’ — runs counter to Congress’s allocation of authority between the Agency and the courts.”
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) called it vindication.
“The Supreme Court delivered a much-needed win for American businesses and families. As noted by SCOTUS, the Obama administration failed to consider the impacts of EPA’s regulatory agenda on the nation’s economy,” Inhofe said. “I applaud the court’s decision to put a halt to reckless rule making that does not take into account commonsense considerations, such as cost.”
“This serves as a reminder that the agency should be implementing laws written by Congress, instead of rewriting those laws to fit the president’s extreme environmental agenda,” he added. “While the ruling is certainly a victory, EPA even acknowledges the negative economic costs that have already occurred including the premature closure of coal plants and thousands of lost jobs. EPA’s actions have far-reaching consequences, even when they are the result of unauthorized actions. The Courts must keep this in mind as the agency approaches finalization of its so-called Clean Power Plan.”
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), former ranking member of the committee, noted the agency “has a poor track record of blatantly producing bogus cost-benefit analyses to justify their rules.”
“I’ve been pushing EPA to use the best available science and data in current and future-rulemaking,” said Vitter. “While today’s Supreme Court ruling is a step in the right direction, there’s still much more that needs to be done to ensure EPA’s mistakes during the rulemaking process do not decrease electricity reliability and greatly increase the cost of energy for low-income families and senior citizens – which is exactly what this mercury rule will do.”
“The Supreme Court made it clear: EPA can no longer ignore the costs of its reckless agenda,” American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle said in a statement. “This decision shows that states should resist EPA’s calls to submit plans for the upcoming climate rule, which will impose enormous economic burdens on the American people for little, if any, environmental gain.”