Air Quality

Guess Who Benefits From Regulating Power Plants

grid_7_region_map

The answer will surprise you.

What parts of the country benefit most from the series of new EPA rules addressing pollution from coal-fired power plants?  The answer is not what you think. EPA does a thorough cost-benefit analysis of its regulations but the costs and benefits are aggregated at the national level. In a new paper, David Spence and David Adelman from the University […]

Continue Reading

What the Market Is Telling Us About Coal

coal pollution image

Dump your coal stocks while you still can!

The market’s message is simple: coal’s day is ending. Three major coal companies (Alpha Natural Resources, Walter Energy, and Patriot Coal) have gone into bankruptcy. The two largest publicly traded  companies (Peabody and Arch) are now trading for a dollar a share, down from $16 and $33 within the past year. They, too, may well […]

Continue Reading

California Governor Jerry Brown: Environmental Saint or Sinner?

Gov. Brown in Rome, July 2015, Associated Press

Brown's National & International Environmental Reputation Disputed by Some California Environmentalists

California Governor Jerry Brown has had a most eventful 2015, especially when it comes to environmental policy.  He started the year fresh from an overwhelming election victory last November, earning him an unprecedented fourth term as California’s chief executive.  Brown began 2015 by declaring a state drought emergency and becoming California’s “educator-in-chief,” repeatedly warning state […]

Continue Reading

Michigan v. EPA: Policymaking in the Guise of Statutory Interpretation

Same to you, buddy

In Michigan v. EPA, the majority followed its own policy views, not those in the statute.

The majority opinion by Justice Scalia has gotten most of the attention.  Most notably, he wrote that “[o]ne would not say that it is even rational, never mind “appropriate”, to impose billions of dollars in economic costs for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.”  Indeed, “[n]o regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly […]

Continue Reading

Interpreting Michigan v. EPA

Four Corners Coal Plant

The opinion seems likely to have very limited repercussions.

In bringing the mercury rule to the Supreme Court, industry was hoping for a ruling that EPA had to balance costs and benefits (and could only include benefits relating to mercury).  What they got was far less than that.  Here, I’d like to address some key questions about the opinion. 1.  When does EPA have […]

Continue Reading

MATS Rules Declared Invalid in Michigan v. EPA, 5-4

Antonin_Scalia_2010

Opinion by Scalia Based on Meaning of "Appropriate"

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down EPA’s rules governing toxic emissions from power plants.  My first take on the opinion, by Justice Scalia, is that while the outcome is bad for the agency, the reasoning appears not to be a radical departure from existing doctrine, with one worrisome tidbit thrown in.  Justice Scalia used […]

Continue Reading

Mercury Rising: The Court Reverses EPA’s Regulation

supreme-court

This was not a great decision for EPA, but it could have been much worse.

The Court has just now decided the Michigan case, involving EPA’s mercury regulation.  As Ann Carlson explained in an earlier post, a lot was at stake in the case.  The Court ruled 5-4 against EPA.  This passage seems to be key to the Court’s reasoning: One would not say that it is even rational, never mind […]

Continue Reading

Will Obama Get a Fourth Major Victory Tomorrow in Michigan v. EPA?

Decision Expected Tomorrow, Written by Someone Other than Scalia

Though the monumental decisions on health care and marriage equality are behind us, tomorrow remains another big day in the Supreme Court.  Three cases remain undecided:  Glossip v. Gross (whether Oklahoma’s execution methods are unconstitutional); Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (whether a state commission can draw Congressional electoral lines) and Michigan v. […]

Continue Reading

Clean Air versus States Rights

constitution

A sleeper decision by the D.C. Circuit upholds federal air pollution authority.

The D.C. Circuit’s decision last week in Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality v. EPA didn’t get a lot of attention, despite having a very significant constitutional ruling.  Since the constitutional discussion doesn’t start until about page seventy, after many pages of scintillating discussion of matters like the reliability of private air pollution monitors and the […]

Continue Reading

Has EPA’s Proposed NSPS Expired?

Expired

Responding to claims that EPA must withdraw its proposed rules to control power-plant GHGs under CAA § 111

Challenges to EPA’s emergent program to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under Clean Air Act section 111 continue to mount. Recently, the Attorneys General of 19 states sent a joint letter to EPA arguing that because EPA failed to finalize its proposed New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for GHG emissions within one year—as the Clean […]

Continue Reading