August 21, 2012
The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled yesterday against the Environmental Protection Agency, striking down an Obama administration regulation to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants that crossed state lines.
In a 2-1 decision, the federal court ruled that the EAP had exceeded its authority by attempting to limit the amount of of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide released in a number of states.
Also known as the Transport Rule, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule defined emissions responsibilities for 28 upwind states based on their contributions to downwind states’ air quality problems.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement that the rule was struck down for two reasons:
“First, the rule went far beyond the EPA’s express statutory authority by requiring the upwind states to reduce their emissions by more than their own ‘significant contributions’ to downwind states’ air quality,” Tomblin said. “Second, the rule failed to give states the initial opportunity to implement the required reductions with respect to sources within their borders.”
Tomblin noted that this was the fourth time that a federal judge had ruled against the EPA for “overstepping its authority and trampling on states’ authority.”
“It’s time for Washington to stop trying to tell us how to run our coal mines,” Tomblin said. “The policies the EPA is trying to push on our state are anti-coal and anti-West Virginia. The record is clear; the EPA is 0-4 in its war on coal. I’m asking President Obama to reign in his EPA and end this war. Enough is enough-the EPA has been told time and time again that it is acting outside its authority.”
Both U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin released statements praising the court’s ruling.
“The Court’s decision echoes a recurring theme that I have been hammering away at for a long time now – that the EPA, in its zealotry to advocate air pollution controls not authorized by the Congress, has gone well beyond its statutory authority, as well as public opinion,” Rahall said. “The courts are rightly calling EPA on its extralegal actions, and that’s good news for coal miners and their families in Appalachia.”
“I am especially pleased with this decision in particular because the court explicitly said that the EPA was wrong when it didn’t give states the chance to pass their own rules before the EPA imposed a federal plan,” Manchin said. “Common sense should tell the EPA that their strategy is wrong and it’s been proven futile. Working with the states will do a lot more to fix the environment and the economy than taking an adversarial stance.”
The new downwind pollution rule was triggered by a federal court throwing out the previous one penned by the Bush administration. The new regulation would have replaced a 2005 Bush administration rule and would have cost power plant operators $800 million annually in 2014, according to EPA estimates. That’s in addition to the $1.6 billion spent per year to comply with the Bush rule that was still in effect until the government drafted the new one.
The EPA stated the investments would be far outweighed by the hundreds of billions of dollars in health care savings from cleaner air. The agency also stated the rule would prevent more than 30,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses each year.
Tuesday’s court decision leaves the 2005 regulation in place.
An EPA spokeswoman said the agency was reviewing the decision, and would determine what steps to take after the review is complete.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.