Cross-State Goes to Court: Oral Arguments Start Tomorrow in Lawsuits about Clean Air Rule

Another big day in court looms for EPA’s clean air protections.

This time it’s the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule that’s under fire.

Tomorrow, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments in lawsuits over the rule – a rule that provides vitally important clean air protections for families across the eastern half of the United States.  

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule reduces the sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen pollution emitted from coal-fired power plants across 28 eastern states. That pollution drifts across the borders of those states, contributing to dangerous — and sometimes lethal — levels of particulate and smog pollution in downwind states.    

EPA issued the rule under the “Good Neighbor” protections of the Clean Air Act, which ensure that the emissions from one state’s power plants do not cause harmful pollution levels in neighboring states.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would reduce power plant sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent and oxides of nitrogen by 54 percent from 2005 levels. These emissions and the resulting particulate pollution and ozone (more commonly known as soot and smog) impair air quality and harm public health — both near the plants and hundreds of miles downwind. 

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will provide healthier air for 240 million Americans in downwind states. EPA estimates that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, when fully implemented, will:

  • Save up to 34,000 lives each year
  • Prevent 15,000 heart attacks each year
  • Prevent 400,000 asthma attacks each year
  • Provide $120 billion to $280 billion in health benefits for the nation each year   

(Check the health protections for your state here)

Here’s the history of the case:

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was adopted on July 6, 2011, and compliance with the rule was scheduled to begin January 1, 2012. But opponents sued.

On December 30th, the court granted motions by several power companies and states to temporarily halt implementation of the rule. (The same court similarly halted EPA's first interstate air pollution protection program — and then later affirmed EPA's action after a complete review of the facts and law.) 

So — we go to court tomorrow.

Judges Rogers, Griffith, and Kavanaugh will hear oral arguments in the case beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

EDF will be in court to support the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. And we certainly won’t be alone.

Nine states (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont), the District of Columbia, five major cities (Baltimore, Bridgeport, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia), the American Lung Association, the Clean Air Council, NRDC, Sierra Club, and several major power companies (Calpine, Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group) have all intervened in support of these crucial clean air protections.  

On the other side are: other power companies (AEP, Southern, GenOn, Luminant) and states such as Texas.

You can read all the briefs that have been filed in the case on our website.

And soon you can read more about it right here. I’ll be in the courtroom to listen to oral arguments, and I’ll post the highlights for you.

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