EPA Ordered to Review Limits on Cross-Border Coal Emissions

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Limits on cross-border pollution for 13 states including Texas, Georgia and South Carolina were overturned by a federal appeals court which sent the emission rules back to the Environmental Protection Agency to review.

The EPA’s requirements for pollution cuts in 2014 were unnecessary for other states to reach their air-quality targets, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Tuesday. Those limits will stay in place while the EPA reworks them, the court said.

“EPA is pleased that the court decision keeps the Cross-State Rule in place so that it continues to achieve important public health protections,” Melissa Harrison, a spokeswoman for EPA, said in an e-mail. “We are reviewing the decision and will determine any appropriate further course of action once our review is complete.”

The decision follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year upholding the EPA’s rule, which applies to 28 eastern states and is designed to cut pollutants that cause smog and acid rain. The court’s 6-2 ruling left open the ability of the states to individually challenge the regulation.

Coal-fired power plants, a top source of mercury and acid gases, face a series of EPA rules under the administration of President Barack Obama aimed at getting them to clean up.

The EPA’s cross-state pollution rules target sulfur dioxide, which can lead to acid rain and soot, and nitrogen oxide, a component of ground-level ozone. Coal accounts for 98 percent of sulfur dioxide and 12 percent of nitrogen oxide released into the air by power plants, according to the EPA.

The agency and the states must provide new evidence, data or calculations as appropriate for the review, the court said.

The case is EME Homer City Generation v. EPA, 11-1302, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (Washington)