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Supreme Court EPA Decision: "No Great Shakes" for New York

PHOTO: Legal experts predict the latest Supreme Court Ruling on the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxins rule won't derail efforts to reduce the number of coal-fired power plants in New York. Photo credit: M.D. Wilson.
PHOTO: Legal experts predict the latest Supreme Court Ruling on the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxins rule won't derail efforts to reduce the number of coal-fired power plants in New York. Photo credit: M.D. Wilson.
June 30, 2015

NEW YORK – In a decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider tougher standards on coal-fired power plants based on their cost to the industry.

Richard Revesz, director of the Institute of Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, says the EPA already took most of those factors into account – the only issue is whether they should have considered them earlier in the process.

"It means in New York the same as it means elsewhere in the country," says Revesz. "I don't think the Supreme Court decision is going to have much impact on the ultimate fate of coal-fired power plants. We're continuing to shift away from them."

The high court ruled five-to-four that the EPA must include the cost of compliance before deciding whether a ruling is "appropriate and necessary."

Jim Pew, an attorney with Earthjustice, says the EPA is up against a well-financed campaign from companies that don't want to pay to clean up their pollution.

"Everyone has known for decades that power plants are the worst toxic-emitters, and the industry has been fighting tooth-and-nail against controlling its pollution, very successfully, for years," says Pew. "Even if they succeed in nothing but delaying these controls, they save a lot of money."

The NAACP identified four coal plants that have disproportionate negative health effects on New Yorkers of color. Advocates say this latest ruling should not impact efforts to address those concerns.

According to the EPA, the benefits of cleaner air could reach $90 billion per year.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY