EPA interstate air pollution law vacated by court

Washington, D.C., August 22, 2012 — A federal appeals court struck down an air pollution rule that regulates sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides across the U.S.

In a 2-1 decision, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA had overstepped its authority in issuing the “good neighbor” pollution standards, also known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule or the Clean Air Interstate Rule.

The court said the EPA needed to give states more time to craft anti-pollution legislation of their own, vacating the rule and requiring the EPA to come up with a new rule.

The suit against the rule was brought by attorneys general from primarily Southern and Midwestern states, including Florida, Texas and Kansas.

Other panels of judges on the D.C. Circuit Court have recently handed the EPA key victories against efforts by industry and the same attorneys general to dismantle or delay other air pollution rules.

Utilities heavily invested in coal-fired generation, including American Electric Power and the Southern Co., intervened on behalf of the plaintiff states.

The EPA said that federal regulations have been successful in reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides, adding that the now-vacated rule could have prevented more than 30,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses annually.

The EPA, which is reviewing the court's action, could abide by the decision and develop a new rule. The agency's congressional, state and environmental allies are urging it to appeal the ruling, either to the full D.C. Circuit Court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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