Not every decision from the Supreme Court was going to be a victory for progressives. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that begins to erode the protections that put limits on the amount of heavy metal pollution that can be produced by oil and coal plants.
At the center of the case was a rule that the EPA has been working to enforce that would cut down on the toxic mercury pollution released from these plants. Justice Scalia authored the majority opinion of the court and stated that the EPA acted illegally when it tried to evaluate how much the regulation would negatively effect the power industry.
“EPA must consider cost- including cost of compliance – before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary,” Scalia wrote. “It will be up to the [EPA] to decide (as always, within the limits of reasonable interpretation) how to account for cost.”
Continuing to delay the EPA’s enforcement of the law continues to allow power plants to pollute and act with abandon. The Supreme Court’s decision, however, does not, in itself invalidate the EPA’s ability to act.
The case will now be remanded back to the D.C. Circuit Court to decide in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling. If Scalia’s opinion is to inform the D.C. Court’s decision, though, it does not look good.
“It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits,” wrote Scalia, adding, “no regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good.”