Supreme Court Rules Against EPA On Coal Fired Power Plants
ACI, AEP, BTU, SO
The US 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 Monday 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 those 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 Nat Gas, initially rose on the news. Peabody Energy Corp.(NYSE:BTU), the largest coal supplier in the US, climbed as much as 15%. Arch Coal Inc (NYSE:ACI). jumped 19% and Alpha Natural Resources Inc. gained 14%. They pared much of those initial gains.
Utilities such as American Electric Power Co. (NYSE:AEP), and Southern Co. (NYSE:SO) have already invested billions of dollars to install scrubbers or switch to natural-gas generation, as the initial deadline for the rule was early this year. Any changes to their plans would be limited, because of other state or federal rules.
Mercury, Air Toxics
Tthe defeat of the EPA regulation drew praise from industry and Republican critics of the agency, who argue that the EPA under President Barack Hussein Obama has abandoned commonsense balance.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision represents a cutting rebuke to the administration’s callous attitude,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) said in a statement. “Obama Administration officials like to pretend that the costs of their massive and regressive regulations either don’t exist or don’t matter.”
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