EPA appeals decision that struck down new limits on air pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency is appealing a federal court decision that vacated a major regulation to curb soot- and smog-forming power plant emissions that cross state lines.

Justice Department lawyers representing EPA are asking the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the 2-1 August decision by a three-judge panel that nullified the agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

The rule, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s air quality agenda, forces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions cuts from power plants in 28 states in the eastern half of the country.

The Obama administration’s request Friday for review by a wider group of judges bashes the August ruling.

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“The panel’s decision upends the appropriate relationship of the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government by rewriting clear legislation, ignoring explicit statutory jurisdictional limits, and stepping into the realm of matters reserved by Congress and the courts to the technical expertise of administrative agencies,” the petition for “en banc” review states.

The August decision that struck down the rule stated that the regulation had allowed EPA to “impose massive emissions reduction requirements on upwind states without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text.”

Click here for more on the decision that vacated the rule.

EPA issued a statement Friday that says the appeal reflects its commitment to ensuring public health gains the rule is forecast to provide when phased-in.

“EPA proposed a cost-effective and common-sense approach that would help states meet their Clean Air Act obligations to cut air pollution and meet air quality health standards, preventing more than 30,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses each year. Our filing today signals our commitment to this goal,” the agency said.