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Court Overturns Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has overturned an air pollution rule intended to reduce the amount of coal plant emissions that cross state lines, in a decision analysts say could set the regulations back by several years.

In a 2-1 decision, the court struck down the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which set limits on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in 28 Eastern states and Texas, saying that the EPA had overstepped its boundaries.

In its ruling, the court said that the EPA had improperly required states to reduce emissions “by more than their own significant contribution,” instead of appropriating reductions based on the amount of pollution each state was contributing. The court also said that the CSAPR violates the Clean Air Act by not allowing states to submit their own plans to control pollution, the New York Times reported.

According to the Times, analysts said it could take several years to re-draft the regulations, which the EPA finalized in July 2011 and signed in February. The agency had predicted that the rule, along with other state and EPA actions, would reduce SO2 emissions by 73 percent from 2005 levels, and NOx emissions by 54 percent.

But power groups had said that they could not meet the timeframe, or bear the costs of installing new equipment estimated at $800 million annually from 2014, Reuters said.

The National Association of Manufacturers applauded the court’s ruling, saying CSAPR would have cost an estimated 1.44 million jobs by 2020, and driven up energy prices nationwide by 11.5 percent. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said the industry has already begun to see plant closings and job losses from CSAPR and encouraged policy makers to “stop the EPA’s overreach.”

Timmons cited an Aug. 21 study by Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, which said manufacturers face more than 2,000 regulations, imposed over the past three decades, the majority of which are EPA regulations. He said EPA regulations are also the most costly.

Senior Democrats are looking for the Obama administration to appeal the court ruling. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, said that if an appeal fails, a swift solution should be found that is fair to affected states, and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also urged the administration to appeal, The Hill said.

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