In a stunning blow to the Obama Administration the US Supreme Court has essentially blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to regulate mercury and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants as part of the EPA’s efforts to restrict carbon emissions. The New York Times reports that a number of US states and industry groups sued stating that the proposed rules would impose punishing costs and that the agency did not take that into account when it culminated the regulations. The EPA argued that while it was not required to do a cost-benefit analyses when considering the rules in question, it later did and stated the benefits far outweighed the costs.
In writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia stated:
It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. Statutory context supports this reading.
While health and environmental groups that sided with the EPA see this as a bump in the road, the agency will have to perform a re-write of their coal-fired plant rules and it is unknown how long that will take. Hopefully, this will set the EPA back so far that it will be unable to complete the changes until after the November 2016 elections. Since Obama’s EPA Chief, Gina McCarthy, is clearly an ideologue I have no doubt that she will push through carbon emission rule revisions before President Obama leaves office unless Congress moves to block it. Below is a segment from CBS News’ coverage of the decision that includes an appearance by Cato Institute senior fellow Ilya Shapiro.