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Federal Court Overturns Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

The D.C. Circuit overturned an EPA rule that would have dramatically cut down interstate air pollution, ruling that the agency had exceeded its authority devising regulations affecting more than two dozen states.

EPA’s rule had enormous benefits, estimated between $120 and $280 billion per year, and was anticipated to save tens of thousands of lives and over a million missed days of work or school per year. In addition to striking down the current rule, the court’s opinion will make it even more difficult for EPA to reduce pollution through market-based approaches. The court narrowly construes the Clean Air Act to hamper a full interstate marketplace, reducing the ability of polluters to take advantage of low cost emission reductions.

This decision is clearly a defeat for the environment, but it is not good news for business either. While some polluters may be happy to put off emissions reductions in the short term, the long-term effect of today’s ruling is to increase the cost of pollution reduction for everyone. It ends up harming both millions of American who will continue to be struck by preventable illness and death, and the economy, which will be forced to shoulder unnecessary costs.