The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency was in the wrong when it told electric power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The court stated that the EPA should have considered how much it would cost power plants to do that.
The decision comes too late for most power companies, as many have already gone bankrupt or been subject to great financial loss. However it could affect future EPA regulations.
Jeff Holmstead is a former senior EPA official and an attorney with the law firm Bracewell and Giuliani, which represents utilities. He says the ruling is narrow, but the court clearly rebuked the EPA. "Before it decides to regulate something," he says, paraphrasing the high court, "sometimes it needs to take into account the cost of those regulations. It can't just turn a blind eye."
Many companies from the coal industry along with more than 20 states argued that the EPA should not decide to adopt expensive new regulations without considering what implementing those rules would cost them. (in a 5 to 4 vote) The Supreme Court agreed. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion.