In what is hoped will be only a temporary set-back, with a 5-4 vote on June 29, the US Supreme Court struck down the EPA’s rules limiting the emission of mercury and other toxins from coal-fired power plants, of which there are 33 in Pennsylvania. At issue was the EPA’s judged failure to adequately account for the cost of compliance by the industry. The case, brought by Earthjustice on behalf of groups including the Sierra Club, will now go back to the Washington DC circuit court of appeals, which will ask the EPA to reconsider its rule-making.
As Earthjustice points out, the Court did not reject the following key conclusions by EPA:
- Power plants are far and away the worst industrial polluters.
- Controlling toxic emissions is both technologically and economically feasible.
- The resulting pollution reductions will yield between $37 billion and $90 billion in health benefits every year.
- The public will receive $3–$9 in health benefits for every $1 that the protections cost the power industry.