Appeals Court Sides With Texas in Fight Over EPA Air Pollution Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
Thu August 23, 2012 3:43 am
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Tuesday was a good day for the state of Texas in federal appeals court: not only did a panel of judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rule that the state could boot Planned Parenthood from its Women’s Health Program, but judges from the D.C. Circuit sided with Texas over the EPA in a separate case.

Texas, along with several other states and power companies, had sued the EPA over a rule that aimed to curb harmful power plant pollutants from crossing state lines. The panel’s 2-1 majority found that that EPA had “exceeded its statutory authority” under the Clean Air Act with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, and that the agency must revise the regulation.

The EPA rule, enacted under the Obama administration, required aging coal-fired power plants to put caps on nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide production that contributed to unhealthy air in neighboring states.

Power groups fought the rule with fears that it would force companies to shutter older power plants, threatening the state’s ability to keep the lights on. Dallas-based Luminant, the largest power provider in the state, has maintained that the rule would have forced them to idle units at one of its coal-fired plants and three mines. (Luminant is owned by Energy Future Holdings, which the Dallas Observer recently speculated was preparing itself for bankruptcy.)

The plaintiffs also argued that the EPA did not give enough time for states to develop their own emission-reducing regulations, in violation of the Clean Air Act, which gives states the primary responsibility of determining how to meet federal regulations.

In her dissenting opinion, Judge Judith Rogers responded to this claim by arguing that states’

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