Contours of the EPA’s regulations under the Clean Air Act to be scrutinized

Nov 26, 2014

The smoke stacks at American Electric Po

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power’s (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. ; Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The Supreme Court of the United States said Tuesday that it would be hearing an environmental case concerning the Environmental Protection Agency regulating toxic emissions from power plants.

The case centers around the questions of whether the EPA has to consider the cost of its regulations. The Clean Air Act requires regulations to be “appropriate and necessary,” but the EPA has determined that it does not require consideration of costs early in the regulatory process. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit ruled earlier this year that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was reasonable, and therefore they did not have to consider costs.

By the EPA’s own calculation, they spend $9.6 billion a year regulating toxic emissions from power plants. In a brief, the EPA said that once its regulations were fully in place in 2016, the regulations would bring in total benefits between of $37 billion and $90 billion.

Should the EPA be required to consider the costs of its regulations? What do you think of the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act?


Greg Stohr, Supreme Court reporter, Bloomberg

Ken Green, Senior Director, Centre for Natural Resources at the Fraser Institute, a think tank in Canada. He has studied environmental, energy, and natural resource policy for various think-tanks across North America including the Reason Foundation in Los Angeles and the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC

Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case.

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