Court delays EPA mercury rule case while Trump reviews

Court delays EPA mercury rule case while Trump reviews
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A federal court delayed its case Thursday regarding a major Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air pollution rule.

In a victory for the Trump administration, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled late Thursday that the case will be on hold while the administration decides whether to repeal the regulation or defend it in court.

At issue is a rule the Obama administration wrote last year to fix a problem with the cost-benefit analysis regarding 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule, limiting pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

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The Supreme Court decided against the underlying rule in 2015, but a lower court gave the EPA an opportunity to fix the cost-benefit analysis.

The Trump administration said in requesting the delay earlier this month that it is reviewing the 2016 rule to decide if it supports it.

It’s unclear what that means for the underlying 2012 rule and whether the administration is considering repealing that regulation.

The Environmental Defense Fund slammed Thursday’s decision and the EPA’s decision to review the rule.

“The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards have a rock-solid foundation in the law and science, and there is no basis to weaken them,” Graham McCahan, an attorney with the group, said in a statement. “We fully expect these critical health protections will continue to remain in place.”

In the case, numerous business groups and conservative states are asking the court to overturn the 2016 fix, saying it doesn’t follow the Clean Air Act’s requirements. Scott Pruitt, the EPA’s administrator, had been a leader in the litigation when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.

The court asked the Trump administration to give updates every 90 days on its review process.

The regulation took effect in 2015 and has already been blamed for shutting down scores of coal-fired power plants.