US Top Court Upholds Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

Posted by Joseph R. Fonseca
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Victory for Barack Obama

The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Barack Obama a victory on Tuesday by upholding a federal environmental regulation requiring some states to limit pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.

By a 6-2 vote, the court said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted reasonably in requiring 28 states to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which can lead to soot and smog.

Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the EPA rule a cost-effective way to allocate responsibility for emission reductions among upwind states, and that the EPA need not consider each state's proportionate responsibility for the emissions in question.

The regulation in question is viewed by industry and conservative critics in Congress as part of what they call the Obama administration's "war on coal" because of the pollution controls it imposes primarily on coal plants.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out the regulation in an August 2012 ruling. The Obama administration appealed, prompting Tuesday's ruling that reversed the lower court decision. Some related litigation on the EPA rule is still pending in the appeals court and will now move forward.

The rule does not address greenhouse gases, which are the subject of the administration's separate effort to address climate change. Nevertheless, the additional financial burdens on aging coal plants, which are the biggest source of carbon dioxide, could put pressure on some facilities to shut down earlier than planned, legal experts say.

"Today's decision appears to sanction EPA's subversion of the primary responsibility Congress delegated to the states under the Clean Air Act," said Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, one of the groups that challenged the regulation.

A spokesman for Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who also challenged the rule, said the regulation is a "job-killer in Texas."

Several major utilities and coal firms, including Southern Company and Peabody Energy, were represented in the litigation by the Utility Air Regulatory Group, an umbrella organization.

The impact of Tuesday's ruling could be somewhat limited by the fact the EPA has since issued a separate regulation aimed at curbing emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants from coal plants. Experts say it is likely to have a bigger role than the rule upheld on Tuesday in encouraging utilities to close older plants. A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the regulation in a ruling earlier this month. [ID: nL2N0N70T9]

'GOOD NEIGHBOR'

Ginsburg and the high court's other liberal justices were joined in the majority by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, both Republican appointees. Justice Samuel Alito, another Republican appointee, recused himself from the case for undisclosed reasons.

Ginsburg called the rule a "permissible, workable, and equitable interpretation" of the "good neighbor" provision of the federal Clean Air Act.

This provision limits cross-border emissions that make it harder for downwind states to comply with federal air quality standards, or national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).

Ginsburg said the agency "must have leeway in fulfilling its statutory mandate."

Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Both are conservative appointees of Republican presidents.

Scalia took the relatively unusual step of reading a lengthy summary of his strongly worded opinion in the courtroom. He said the majority effectively rewrote the Clean Air Act provision. He called it a "Look Ma, no hands!" approach.

"Today's decision feeds the uncontrolled growth of the administrative state at the expense of government by the people," Scalia said in his remarks from the bench.

 

'RESOUNDING VICTORY'

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the Supreme Court win validated the agency's broader efforts to protect public health.

"Today's Supreme Court decision is a resounding victory for public health and a key component of EPA's efforts to make sure all Americans have clean air to breathe," McCarthy said in a statement.

The Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling on a second challenge to EPA rulemaking. In that case, the court is weighing one part of the agency's first wave of regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The two consolidated cases are EPA v. EME Homer City Generation and American Lung Association v. EME Homer City Generation, U.S. Supreme Court, 12-1182 and 11-1183.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Jonathan Stempel and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Howard Goller, Grant McCool and Gunna Dickson)

 

Maritime Reporter August 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

Mississippi River Closed Due to Collision, Spill

A unified command team continues its response Friday to an oil spill in the Mississippi River following a collision between two towboats at mile marker 937 in Paducah

Ballast Water System Retrofits for 11 Containerships

Eleven container vessels owned by Bernhard Schulte GmbH & Co. KG, based in Germany, are to be retrofitted with Wärtsilä Aquarius Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS), Wärtsilä announced today.

U.S. Coast Guard Responds to Collision Near Paducah

On-scene assessment teams have reported the maximum estimated potential clarified slurry oil released from the tug collision is now 250,000 gallons, Thursday. The

Energy

AET Names DP Shuttle for Statoil Charter

Petroleum tanker owner and operator AET today named its newest vessel, a 120,000 DWT DP2 shuttle tanker, Eagle Bergen.    Eagle Bergen is the second of two vessels

US Oil Drillers Cut Rigs as Crude Prices Collapse

U.S. energy firms cut a surprisingly sharp 13 oil rigs this week, the first drop in seven weeks, as a renewed slump in prices this summer forced drillers to make a second round of cut-backs.

Asia Tankers-VLCC Rates Will See More Volatility

VLCC market to be "hot" in Q4 -VLCC broker. Freight rates for very large crude carriers (VLCCs) face a roller-coaster ride on uncertain cargo volumes and vessel

News

Arctic Cruise Ship Brings High-tech, Green Design

A new vessel has been designed as a luxury expedition cruise vessel for worldwide operation including Arctic and Antarctic regions for itineraries up to 21 days with 300 passengers aboard.

Hapag-Lloyd Adds 6,000 Reefer Containers

In order to profit from the growing reefer markets in South America and Asia, Hapag-Lloyd has ordered 6,000 cutting-edge reefer containers – more than ever before in the company’s history.

AET Names DP Shuttle for Statoil Charter

Petroleum tanker owner and operator AET today named its newest vessel, a 120,000 DWT DP2 shuttle tanker, Eagle Bergen.    Eagle Bergen is the second of two vessels

People in the News

ISS Appoints Holmes as VP, Cruise Solutions

Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) said it is embarking on a plan to develop its cruise business with the appointment of Grant Holmes as Vice President, Cruise Solutions.

Australia's New Shipping Laws Threaten Loss of Jobs

The planned changes to Australia’s shipping laws would cause a 93% loss of Australian seafaring jobs a new report says.   More than nine in 10 domestic seafarers

A Great Passion for Small Ships

Gottfried Knöbel owns almost 1,500 miniature model ships, many of them are Hapag-Lloyd ships. How did he end up with this collection?   In a quiet residential district in Cologne,

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1502 sec (7 req/sec)