Obama’s Coal Policy Gets Big Pat on the Back From Supreme Court

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Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

A Tuesday Supreme Court ruling was both an enormous win for the Obama administration’s environmental policy agenda and a major blow to the coal industry. The case ruled on whether or not the Environmental Protection Agency would be able to enact regulatory measures on pollution stemming from coal-fired power plants. With a 6 to 2 ruling, the Clean Air Act was upheld, with the decision written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As with all Supreme Court rulings, upholding the EPA’s right to control for the air pollution within the coal energy industry has wider implications for future policy, indicating that further environmental control measures would stand up to judicial review.

Standing against the EPA, 15 states and those relevant utilities all argued that the regulations would result in an unjust economic strain on the states in question, while states on the opposite side of the court room demanded that “good neighbor” rules be put in place to reduce and prevent pollution across state borders — a complex problem of wind dynamic that Ginsburg addressed in the courts decision, saying that, “Some pollutants stay within upwind states’ borders, the wind carries others to downwind states, and some subset of that group drifts to states without air quality problems.” She further stated, “In crafting a solution to the problem of interstate air pollution, regulators must account for the vagaries of the wind.”

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