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Supreme Court Rejects Bid To Reconsider EPA Mercury Rule

Jun 2016

The US Supreme Court last week rejected an appeal from 20 states seeking to block an EPA rule to reduce mercury pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA should have assessed costs and benefits before enacting the new regulation.  States sought to block the rule while the agency revised its cost-benefit analysis.

In a statement last Monday, EPA praised the court’s decision saying, “These practical and achievable standards cut harmful pollution from power plants, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing heart and asthma attacks. Power plants are the largest source of mercury in the United States,” the agency said. “Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage children’s developing nervous systems, reducing their ability to think and learn. All told, for every dollar spent to make these cuts, the public is receiving up to $9 in health benefits.”

In April, the EPA released an updated analysis of the estimated compliance costs to industry, arguing that the cost would amount to a fraction of annual revenue and probably would not lead to steep increases in customer bills.  Industry and business groups remain concerned that the new rule, in addition to other recent regulations targeting the energy sector, could increase the cost of electricity in the years ahead.