In a major win for the energy industry, the Supreme Court ruled Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to limit power plant emissions — saying the agency “unreasonably” failed to consider the cost of the regulations.
The rules curbing emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants began to take effect in April. But the court said by a 5-4 vote Monday that the EPA failed to take their cost into account when the agency first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants.
The challenge was brought by industry groups and 21 Republican-led states.
Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said it is not appropriate to impose billions of dollars of economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.
“EPA must consider cost-including cost of compliance-before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary,” the court said.
The case now goes back to lower courts for the EPA to decide how to account for costs.
The decision is a blow to the Obama administration, just days after the court delivered President Obama a major win by upholding his signature health care overhaul. The White House also celebrated Friday’s historic ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.