Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Mercury Pollution Rules

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Good news -- Chief Justice John Roberts has rejected the call to issue a stay on enforcement of the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standards requested by the group of 20 states suing the EPA to stop it.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards were previously blocked by the court for reasons that I would call nonsensical, but the EPA agreed to make the necessary changes to the standards so they could be enforced.

The group of 20 states suing the EPA tried to have the updated standards blocked, but Justice Roberts turned them down.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said on Thursday the agency is “very pleased” with Roberts’s order.

“These practical and achievable standards cut harmful pollution from power plants, saving thousands of lives each year and preventing heart and asthma attacks,” she said, adding that the agency’s calculations show $9 in health benefits for every dollar in compliance costs for the regulation.

Harrison confirmed that the EPA next month plans to finalize a fix to the rule to retroactively apply its cost-benefit analysis in the way the Supreme Court said was necessary.

Enforcement of the rules was originally blocked by the court because the EPA conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the rules after writing the rules rather than before.

I don't know how you're suppose conduct that kind of analysis without first determining what the rules will be but, you know, whateverthefuck.

Today's rejection of a stay is a victory for the EPA and anyone who believes we should have clean air.

  • muselet

    The cynic in me says this is nothing more or less than John Roberts suddenly becoming terribly concerned about his legacy as Chief Justice.

    The non-cynical part of me—yes, it can in fact be seen without resort to an electron microscope, thank you for asking—says his motives don’t matter. It was the right decision to make, so kudos to Roberts.


    • JMAshby

      Roberts is somewhat of an enigma to me at this point. It’s hard to know what to make of it when some of his votes and opinions make total sense while others make no sense at all. And it’s not just a matter of whether or not I agree with his vote, it’s a matter of just being idiotic, like saying racism is over.

      • muselet

        I can’t get a bead on Roberts, either. It’s not that he’s deliberately doing a good Justice/bad Justice routine, it’s more that he genuinely doesn’t know how he should decide.

        He wants his Supreme Court to issue decisions that benefit corporations, conservative—but not necessarily Righty, if that’s not too fine a distinction—organizations and the Republican Party, but he’s bright enough—dare I say intellectually honest enough?—to realize not all such decisions can be justified constitutionally.

        He is nearly as infuriatingly inconsistent as Anthony “Weathervane” Kennedy.


    • Badgerite

      I think he also might be conscious of the brawl going on with respect to Scalia’s replacement.
      It makes the Court look like it has been used for political ends. And certainly a Chief Justice hates that perception. I don’t think Scalia cared. But Roberts probably does. He wants to maintain some semblance of a legal institution. Not a political one. Public perceptions about this matter to him.
      Anyway, sanity and law rule at the Court for now.

      • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

        I have to agree that it’s all about the public perception of the court.

      • muselet

        Absolutely. And you’re right about Antonin Scalia: once he was passed over for promotion to Chief Justice, he gave up trying to be anything but a cranky ideologue.