EPA tells SCOTUS no reason to delay air pollution rule

EPA tells SCOTUS no reason to delay air pollution rule
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The Obama administration told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it shouldn’t delay an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air pollution rule as several states requested last month. 

Twenty conservatives states asked the Supreme Court to stop a rule on emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants while the EPA reworks it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had previously refused to block the rule, prompting an appeal to the high court. 

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Obama officials, in a Wednesday filing, said the states didn’t meet the legal standards necessary for a court to order a stay, primarily because the Supreme Court is unlikely to take up a case against the rule and that states won't “suffer irreparable harm” between now and when the EPA expects to finalize the rule in April. 

“The requested stay would harm the public interest by undermining reliance interests and the public health and environmental benefits associated with the rule,” the government argued. “The application lacks merit and should be denied.”

The mercury and air toxics (MATS) standards are among the most contentious environmental regulations issued during the Obama presidency, with opponents arguing it’s costly and has caused coal-fired power plants to shut down. 

A group of states, led by Michigan, sued over the rule in 2014, and the Supreme Court ruled last year that the Obama administration should have completed a cost-benefit analysis before undertaking the regulatory process for the MATS standards.

The decision did not overturn the regulation, and the circuit court ruled in December that EPA can continue enforcing it while finalizing the analysis, something the EPA says it expects to do by mid-April.

The states requested the Supreme Court stop the rule in February, arguing the court “has already held that the finding on which the rule rests in unlawful and beyond EPA’s statutory authority.”

But the Obama administration said any stay would be unnecessary since it’s so close to finalizing the new cost-benefit analysis. 

“This court should allow the rule to remain in effect for the anticipated six-week period that remains until EPA issues its revised ‘appropriate and necessary’ determination in April 2016,” officials argued.