• Obama regulation cutting pollution from power plants went into effect in 2015

    The John Amos coal-fired power plant is seen behind a home in Poca, W. Va., in 2014. Twenty states fought an EPA rule cutting carbon emissions from power plants.  The John Amos coal-fired power plant is seen behind a home in Poca, W. Va., in 2014. Twenty states fought an EPA rule cutting carbon emissions from power plants. Photo: Reuters

    WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a long-shot request by states seeking to block an environmental regulation cutting mercury pollution from power plants, a boost for the Obama administration.

    A coalition of 20 states last week asked the Supreme Court for an emergency stay of the Environmental Protection Agency regulation, emboldened by the court’s unexpected order on Feb. 9 that temporarily blocked a different EPA rule cutting carbon emissions from power plants during litigation. The state coalition was led by Michigan’s Republican attorney general, Bill Schuette.

    Chief Justice John Roberts denied the states’ latest request without comment and without referring it to the other justices, a signal that he believed the request didn’t make a strong case for action by the high court. Under court procedures, Chief Justice Roberts handles requests from cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and may act on requests himself or circulate them for consideration by the full court.

    In their plea filed in late February, the states argued that leaving the rule in place since the Supreme Court’s opinion last summer has caused “irreparable harm” and imposed “literally billions of dollars of compliance costs on utilities.”

    The EPA adopted the mercury rules in 2012, and they went into effect in early 2015.

    The Supreme Court ruled last summer that the EPA must reconsider the mercury rule because it didn’t take into account industry costs before deciding to adopt the regulation. The agency plans to issue a final supplemental consideration of cost in April, according to an EPA spokeswoman.

    “These practical and achievable standards cut harmful pollution from power plants, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing heart and asthma attacks,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said. “Power plants are the largest source of mercury in the United States.”

    The Supreme Court’s order last month blocking the carbon regulation was issued with all justices participating and split the court 5-4, with conservatives in the majority.

    Justice Antonin Scalia’s death just a few days after the carbon order cast more uncertainty over the fate of a host of contentious issues, including President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda. His absence from the court wasn’t at issue in the stay denial on the mercury regulations.

    Most utilities have taken steps over the last couple of years to comply with the rule as it was winding its way through the legal system.

    A request for comment to the Michigan’s attorney general’s office wasn’t immediately returned.

    Write to Amy Harder at amy.harder@wsj.com and Brent Kendall at brent.kendall@wsj.com


    Posted by Dana West @ 9:53 am for Climate Change, Energy, Issues, National politics |

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