EPA, enviros urge Supreme Court to review cross-state rule

Posted: Apr 1, 2013

Written by

Jason Plautz, Greenwire

U.S. EPA and environmental groups today will ask the Supreme Court to review a federal court's ruling from last year that tossed out the agency's rule for air pollution that drifts across state lines.

In August 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit remanded in a 2-1 decision EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, saying EPA had overstepped its authority by not allowing states to develop their own plans. The court remanded the rule and asked EPA to develop a new plan, leaving in place the controversial Clean Air Interstate Rule, or CAIR.

In a petition filed this morning for writ of certiorari, the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Clean Air Council asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the case.

The petition also mentions a separate filing by EPA, but the agency and the Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

"The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is vital for the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of Americans," said Environmental Defense Fund counsel Sean Donahue. "We have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lower court's decision given the profound public interest in ensuring healthier, longer lives for the 240 million Americans afflicted by power plant pollution and given the appeals court's sharp deviation from settled legal principles."

EPA has said CSAPR would mean more than 50 percent cuts in nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions, saving as many as 34,000 lives a year. The agency has said it would cost the industry $800 million per year but save $280 billion in health costs.

The August ruling was a blow to EPA and supporters, as was a January decision by the court to not grant a full-panel rehearing of the case (Greenwire, Jan. 25).

The court in August said that EPA should have let states craft their own emissions-reduction plans and that CSAPR could have required states to account for more emissions than necessary.

But environmental groups say that the ruling left unclear the agency's requirements under the Clean Air Act to address cross-state pollution and that it could create further confusion among local air agencies.

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