EPA Loses at U.S. High Court on Power-Plant Emissions Rule

(Bloomberg) by Greg Stohr and Mark Drajem – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Obama administration’s effort to limit toxic pollution from the nation’s coal-fired power plants, leaving the fate of a landmark environmental regulation in doubt. The 5-4 decision went against an Environmental Protection Agency mercury rule that forces utilities to shutter old coal plants or invest billions of dollars in equipment to clean up the emissions from their smokestacks. The court said the EPA should have considered the costs and benefits before deciding whether to impose limits on the toxic emissions. “The agency must consider cost -— including, most importantly, cost of compliance -— before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. “Reasonable regulation ordinarily requires paying attention to the advantages and the disadvantages of agency decisions.” Coal stocks, battered over the previous months by a number of pending EPA regulations and cheap natural gas, rose on the news. Peabody Energy Corp., the largest coal supplier in the U.S., climbed as much as 15 percent. Arch Coal Inc. jumped 19 percent and Alpha Natural Resources Inc. gained 14 percent. Utilities such as American Electric Power Co. and Southern Co. have … continue reading

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