U.S. Court of Appeals Rules: EPA Exceeded Mandate

U.S. Court of Appeals Rules: EPA Exceeded Mandate Limiting Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide Emissions From Power-generating Plants

On August 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled, 2-1, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had exceeded its mandate with the Clean Air Act, which was to limit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants in 28 mostly Eastern states and Texas.

EPA’s rule intended to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 73% and nitrogen oxide by 54% at coal-fired power plants below 2005 levels. It is believed that reducing emissions from these plants will further reduce pollutants that cause acid rain and smog that cross state lines. A factor that it didn’t take into account was the financial hardship the rule would create for energy producers and their customers, possibly closing down energy facilities.

The judges ruled that the EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act by…

  1. exceeding its jurisdiction in interpreting the Clean Air Act by imposing massive emission reduction requirements on upwind states, and
  2. violating the act by setting “good neighbor” obligations while setting forth EPA-designed Federal Implementation Plans, or FIPs, to implement the obligations at the state level.

The cross-state air pollution rule was given back to EPA for rewriting and until it is fixed, a similar rule enacted under the George W. Bush administration will remain in effect.

The court ruling disrupted the new environmental market for those trading SO2 and NOx permits established under the EPA rule (known as CSAPR – a cap-and-trade system). The CSAPR allows power producers to comply with emission limits through buying, trading and selling pollution permits.

The Impact on Energy Companies and Customers

Power generators were concerned by the EPA rule because it did not allow sufficient time to design and install pollution control equipment deemed compliant. Others expressed related concerns including the rule caused undue financial hardships and in some cases forcing power producers to shutter some older facilities.

The threat of new EPA guidelines that could increase energy costs may still impact energy companies and their customers, as the air pollution rule was handed back to the EPA for a revision.

An Advocate Watching out for your Interests…

As EPA heads back to the drawing board to craft another rule, now more than ever you need an experienced advocate watching out for your interests. Cansler Consulting is a certified lobbying practice that is experienced in the multi-faceted and inter-related industries of Agriculture, Food and Drug Safety, Rural Healthcare, Transportation & Infrastructure, International Trade and Energy. Through our congressional and regulatory relationships established for over two decades we can help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill and navigate the federal budgeting process. You can contact us at info@canslerconsulting.com or at (202) 220-3150.

Tim Cansler