In a victory for environmentalists and the Obama administration, the Supreme Court today ruled to uphold the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule set by Obama’s EPA in 2011. The rule requires 28 states to reduce power plant emissions that can negatively affect the air quality in neighboring states. Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in the case. The Court ruled 6-2 in favor of the rule with Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagen, Roberts and Kennedy joining Ginsburg in supporting the EPA mandate. Justices Anton Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented from the majority, arguing that the court’s decision ”feeds the uncontrolled growth of the administrative state at the expense of government by the people.”
While Thomas and Scalia may support the right of one state’s power plants to pollute downwind states with pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses and increase the risk of heart attacks for the downwind residents, the courts other justices disagreed. The Court majority determined that the EPA rule was a reasonable mandate consistent with the EPA’s mission, and that upholding the rule would improve the air quality for the American people.
The states of Texas, Ohio, and Michigan opposed the ruling. Some companies that operate coal-fired power plants including Xcel Energy and American Electric Power Company, also opposed the court’s decision. Environmentalists and proponents of clean air on the other hand were pleased with the outcome. Fred Krupp, speaking on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund, applauded the ruling, stating:
The Supreme Court’s decision means that our nation can take the necessary steps to ensure healthier and longer lives for the 240 million Americans at risk from power plant smokestack pollution near and far.
While this particular Supreme Court has not been friendly to proponents of the environment, today’s ruling is not only a victory for environmentalists, but it is a win for all Americans who want better health and cleaner air.