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Supreme Court to Judge Smog Rule

CSAPR mapNot all of today’s big policy news comes out of President Obama’s climate speech. The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to consider the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, a major plank of Obama’s first-term environmental policy, which has been in limbo since an appeals court ruled it invalid last August, following a challenge by 16 states and a number of power companies.

The July 2011 rule sets limits on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from coal-fired plants in 28 states. These emissions form soot and smog, which drift downwind over state lines.  When introducing the rule, the EPA estimated that the regulations would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths. But power companies said they could not meet the EPA’s timeframe, or bear new equipment costs estimated at $800 million annually from 2014.

The SCOTUS decision – due in its next term, from October 2013 to June 2014 – could have far-reaching implications. A decision in favor of the EPA could ease other federal rulemaking, such as the power plant carbon standards that Obama is expected to outline today. And the effect on the coal industry could be profound: yesterday on the NYSE, the country’s no. 1 and no. 2 coal producers, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, closed down 7.2 percent and 6.6 percent, Reuters reports.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Pictured: States covered by the CSAPR and a supplemental proposed rulemaking. Under the two rules, the 20 green states would have to control for fine particles (SO2 and NOx) and ozone. The three blue states would have to control for fine particles only, the five yellow states for ozone only, and the grey states are not covered by the rules.

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