From an editorial Thursday in the Los Angeles Times:
Environmental regulation is a complicated business, but the Environmental Protection Agencys Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is, in principle, fairly simple. It aims to protect people who live in states downwind of deadly pollutants emitted by power plants in adjacent states so if coal smoke from Texas, say, is poisoning the air in Louisiana, the EPA can force Texas to be a better neighbor by cutting emissions. Yet differing court interpretations of the EPAs authority have turned what should be straightforward into a continuing legal nightmare, endangering tens of thousands of American lives in the process.
The latest twist came Tuesday when the D.C. appeals court overturned the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. It was a confusing decision. Four years ago, the court declared that the EPAs rules, developed during the George W. Bush administration, were too weak to adequately protect the health of people in downwind states. But after the Obama EPA crafted a new rule designed to pass the courts scrutiny, two judges on the three-judge panel both of them, notably, Bush appointees said it had gone too far and was now usurping states rights. This provoked a blistering dissent from the third judge an appointee of President Clinton.
The majority wrote a highly defensive decision that seems to twist itself into knots to reinterpret the EPAs powers under the Clean Air Act in ways that arent supported by precedent.
The delay in implementing this pollution rule is costing human lives. Nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide from power plants contribute to smog and acid rain in Midwestern and Eastern states. The rule would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths annually, according to the EPA. It would save up to $280 billion a year in health care and other expenses, at a cost of $800 million annually, which would cause barely a blip in power bills in the 28 states it covers.
The EPA should waste no time in appealing this costly, ideological and wrongheaded decision.