Protecting Jobs … Or People? Supreme Court Declares EPA Pollution Rule Illegal

Texas politicians who had said the Obama administration was killing jobs with too many new regulations are claiming victory after a ruling by the Supreme Court.

By Dave FehlingJune 30, 2015 7:37 am

This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media. 

The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled that the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations to cut pollution from power plants were illegal because they failed to consider the enormous cost to comply.

Texas was one of 21 states involved in the litigation.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the ruling was a “significant victory in our efforts to rein in an out-of-control EPA.” Paxton alleged the new rules were killing jobs.

But proponents of the new rules said not enforcing them would risk killing people.

Justice Elena Kagan in her dissent said cutting power plant pollution including mercury would have saved “many, many lives.”

The group Environment Texas said the state has some of the dirtiest coal-burning power plants in America and that if the new rules meant shutting them down, so be it.

But the issue is really far from decided because the case now goes back to a lower court.

“(Energy companies) would like to be able to breathe a sigh of relief and have the rule at least stayed, if not vacated, while EPA goes back and looks at the costs of compliance, “ said Debra Jezouit, an attorney with Baker Botts, a firm that represents energy companies.

Jezouit says the EPA will now rewrite the rules to take into account of how much they’ll add to the cost of electricity nationwide, an increase previously estimated to run into the billions of dollars a year.