D.C. Circuit Court Rules Against EPA Cross-State Air Polution Regulations: Updated

Just received word that the EPA’s new regulations on cross-state air pollution regulations have been struck down by a D.C. circuit court.  The regulations were set to have a major impact on the nation’s coal production and use, as the reg was to severely limit the amount of coal that could effectively be used to produce electric power.  Georgia Power has already announce it will close 3 plants because of various new EPA mandates.

The Sierra Club is not amused by the ruling:

The Sierra Club is disappointed with the court’s decision today. Americans have been waiting for the clean air they deserve for decades and the court’s ruling today further delays the Clean Air Act’s promise of safe, breathable air for our children.

“The EPA’s long overdue and much-needed rule would have helped communities clean up their air and save lives by curbing millions of tons of air pollution that travel downwind and across state lines each year. Once implemented, the rule would have prevented as many as 34,000 premature deaths annually, avoided 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits, and improved the lives of millions.

“We urge the Environmental Protection Agency to petition for rehearing and strive to preserve the public health benefits that the rule promises.  As Judge Rogers of the DC Circuit has explained, by ruling against EPA, ‘the court disregards limits Congress placed on [the DC Circuit’s]jurisdiction, the plain text of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), and this court’s settled precedent interpreting the same statutory provisions at issue today.’  EPA can and must seek a rehearing of this critical life saving rule.”

We’ll look for more specifics on how this may affect Georgia and our ability to continue with coal production until at least Vogtle comes online.  In the mean time, it may be appropriate to thank and activist judge for stopping the executive branch’s excessive rule making.

Update:  Attorney General Sam Olens released the following statement:

D.C. Circuit Sides with Georgia and Invalidates Onerous EPA Regulation

Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the State of Georgia and declared that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) violates federal law. Attorney General Sam Olens filed a lawsuit in October 2011 seeking to halt the overreaching regulation.

Olens applauded the decision by the D.C. Circuit. “The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is another overt power grab by the Obama Administration from the States. I am pleased that the D.C. Circuit agrees that the EPA exceeded its authority when it mandated job-killing requirements on the States by executive fiat. After Congress didn’t pass President Obama’s cap and trade policy, his Administration attempted to implement onerous regulations contrary to existing law. The Court is right that the Clean Air Act is not a ‘blank check’ for the executive branch to force states into a one size fits all solution. I look forward to working with the EPA to ensure that our air is protected in a manner that respects the rule of law and the principles of federalism.”

CSPAR, finalized by the EPA in the summer of 2011, requires that certain states limit their power plant emissions more than is required by law under the Clean Air Act, and denies states the flexibility to implement federal standards themselves. As the Court said, “EPA’s approach punishes the States for failing to meet a standard that EPA had not yet announced and the States did not yet know.”  The scientifically-flawed rule would require far more emissions reductions from Georgia than is permitted under law and would put Georgia at a disadvantage relative to neighboring states. In order to meet the new emissions requirements, draconian reductions in certain emissions would have to be made, causing major and costly changes to the way electricity is produced in the State. Georgia families and workers, already struggling to recover from the Great Recession, would bare the brunt of the burden in the form of higher energy costs.

Georgia was joined by Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia in challenging the EPA’s CSAPR rule.  A copy of the order is attached.


  1. Technocrat says:

    “our ability to continue with coal production until at least Vogtle comes online” What COAL production, COAL importation.
    Plenty of NAT GAS and Cryo LPG even if it has to be hauled in from Port of Savannah by truck after midnight. Until the pipelines are finished.
    “Two Southern Company coal-fired electric generating plants near Atlanta are the biggest contributors to global greenhouse gases in the United States, and a third Southern plant in Alabama is the third-biggest emitter.”

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Please do not tell the folks that hundreds of trucks full of liquid natural gas go right thru the city of savannah ga. Please do not tell the tourist either.
      Ask folks which is worse moving bombs on wheels or moving coal on trains and then wheels?

  2. Happy Face says:

    How much of Vogtle’s production capability is going to be used to take coal plants offline and how much is going to be used to accomidate future demand? I’m curious if this will actually reduce the amount of coal we burn or just slow down the rate of increase of the coal we burn. If it actually does reduce the amount of coal used in electricity production, it’s not just a win for cleaner air, it’s also a win for rail capacity. Anyone who works in a downtown highrise with a view of the railroad tracks can see the incredible amount of coal that comes through Atlanta each day. Freeing up capacity on those rail lines for other uses would be a good thing.

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