A federal court threw out a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants, dealing a blow to the Obama administration.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington in a 2-1 ruling today struck down the EPA’s cross-state air pollution rule, saying the agency overstepped its legal authority and issued standards that were too strict. The court sided with power companies and mining groups challenging to the measure, which caps emissions in more than two dozen states. The rule had been put on hold by the court in December while it considered the regulation’s legality.
Texas governor Rick Perry said of the decision:
Today’s court decision is further proof of an out-of-control and out-of-line EPA. On the heels of our recent flexible air permitting program victory, today’s ruling further dismantles the misguided agenda of President Obama’s activist, overreaching EPA that has no regard for the impact of its imprudent policies on states’ economies or Americans’ checkbooks.
“It is not our job to set environmental policy,” Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the 60-page opinion. “Our limited but important role is to independently ensure that the agency stays within the boundaries Congress has set. EPA did not do so here.”
The court’s decision, which sparked a rally in coal stocks, could leave the EPA with years of work to replace a regulation the agency said would have “dramatic” health benefits for 240 million people, Whitney Stanco, senior energy policy analyst at Guggenheim Securities LLC, said.
The court ordered the agency to continue to enforce a 2005 measure known as the Clean Air Interstate Rule until a viable replacement to the cross-state regulation can be issued.
The EPA is reviewing the decision, and will decide “the appropriate course of action,” Alisha Johnson, an agency spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.