WASHINGTON (June 29, 2015) – The Supreme Court today returned the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury and toxic air rule to the lower court for reconsideration, saying EPA must consider costs in deciding whether to regulate air pollution from power plants.
The following is a statement by John Walke, senior attorney and director of the Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The court’s ruling leaves the EPA rule in place, and we are confident the agency will meet its burden in justifying these important health standards, because the benefits to the American people overwhelmingly outweigh industry compliance costs. This Administration can and should complete its cost analysis promptly, and continue safeguarding public health and saving lives.”
A coalition of power companies and states had challenged EPA’s decision to regulate mercury and toxic air pollution. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit had upheld the rule.
Strong limits on mercury—a dangerous neurotoxin that harms children’s developing brains and nervous systems—as well as arsenic, lead, dioxins, acid gasses and other pollution from power plants are essential to protect public health.
These standards would prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 540,000 missed work days, and 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits each year. Power plants are the nation’s largest industrial source of brain poison mercury, and these standards will reduce mercury by 80-90%, and impede a primary consumption and exposure pathway for people.