By Max Bomber
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overruled a federal agency’s plan to control emissions of mercury and other pollutants from power-company smokestacks – siding with states who argued the EPA had gone too far.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence called the ruling a “victory for Indiana.” The state was one of more than 20 that sued the Environmental Protection Agency over the Clean Air Act rules.
“For too long, the repercussions of costly regulations and federal overreach have been overlooked in Washington, where the administration’s approach to energy policy has placed environmental concerns above all others,” Pence said in a statement.
The nation’s highest court ruled that the EPA should have taken costs into account when it formed its mercury and air toxics standards, which were designed to protect children from mercury pollution from nearby power plants. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision reversed an appeals ruling, sending it back to the EPA to rethink the burden the rules put on businesses.
Jodi Perras, Indiana representative for the Sierra Club, said the group is “deeply disappointed that the court decided to delay protections that would ensure that children can grow up safe, healthy, and protected from pollution.”
She said the rule would have prevented as many as 290 premature deaths in Indiana and created up to $2.4 billion in health benefits. Perras urged President Barack Obama’s administration to revise the rule quickly to restore protections.
But U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, said in statement that the court decision was “common sense” and that “the EPA wrongly disregarded costs and rushed to regulate emissions from power plants.” Coats also said that Congress needed to regulate the EPA so that the agency complies with congressional orders to balance the costs and benefits of its regulations.
Last week, Pence sent a letter to Obama denouncing the EPA’s newer Clean Power Plan and saying Indiana could not afford to comply. In the letter Pence said the rules are “ill-conceived and poorly constructed.” Pence also said unless the final rule significantly changes the act, the state will not comply. He said the state would use any legal means necessary to counter the rule.
More than 26,000 Hoosiers are employed in the coal industry. “I am deeply concerned about the impacts of the Clean Power Plan on our state, especially our job creators, the poor, and the elderly who cannot afford more expensive, less reliable energy,” Pence said in his letter.
Max Bomber is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.