A federal court has upheld an Environmental Protection Agency mercury emissions rule responsible for forcing hundreds of coal-fired power plants to retire across the country.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. upheld the EPA’s Mercury Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for coal and oil-fired power plants. The rule limits emissions of mercury and other air pollutants from such power plants, and the court victory has been hailed by environmentalists as a victory for public health.
“Today’s legal victory is another giant step forward on the road to cleaner, healthier air,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “The court recognized that mercury and other dangerous air toxins from coal-fired power plants are a threat to public health, and that we should all be protected from them.”
The EPA says MATS would prevent 11,000 early deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks annually. The agency says that the rule would cost $10.2 billion annually, making it one of the most expensive agency regulations to date.
“These practical and cost-effective standards will save thousands of lives each year, prevent heart and asthma attacks, while slashing emissions of the neurotoxin mercury, which can impair children’s ability to learn,” the EPA said in a statement on Tuesday.
But the coal industry argues that the rule is anything but cost-effective as MATS has played a role in shutting down about 300 coal plants across the country.
“We are disappointed that the D.C. Circuit Court reaffirmed EPA’s overreaching ways by upholding the MATS rule, which EPA estimated to be one of the most expensive regulations ever put forward,” said said Laura Sheehan, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).
“Unfortunately tough news like today’s ruling is nothing new to our industry” Sheehan added. “If anything, the ruling bolsters our resolve to continue pushing back against EPA overreach and protecting American consumers, who are ultimately paying the price for this costly rule.”