Rena Steinzor: Supreme Court Agrees to Review Challenge to EPA's Mercury Pollution Rule

by Erin Kesler

November 25, 2014

Today, the Supreme Court agreed to review a challenge to an EPA rule to reduce mercury pollution. 

The Utility Air Regulatory Group and the National Mining Association, and twenty-one states, appealed an April 2-1 federal appeals court ruling that upheld EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

According to Center for Progressive Reform President and University of Maryland School of Law professor Rena Steinzor:

The Supreme Court’s decision to grant review is lamentable. It’s no surprise that the coal-fired power plants want to overturn EPA’s carefully crafted controls on mercury and other toxic pollutants.  But this rule was mandated by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments because mercury, in very small quantities, damages brain and nervous system development in children and babies in utero.  The rule would control, for the first time, not just mercury but acid gases and heavy metals such as chromium, arsenic, and nickel.  Cost-benefit analyses show that each year the rule will prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 130,000 asthma attacks, and 3.2 million days when people cannot go to work or school.  The electric utility industry, which has never met a public health safeguard that it can tolerate, wants the Supreme Court to micromanage the cost side of this equation, by requiring analysis not required by the Clean Air Act, and turning judges into economists who flyspeck thousands of pages of elaborate, impenetrable calculations.  We can only hope the Court will resist that temptation.

 

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Erin Kesler was a Communications Specialist for the Center for Progressive Reform.

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