Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Told You So

It is fun being the Supreme Court. It was not difficult to forecast the ruling in the case Utility Air Regulatory Croup vs. New Jersey, 08-352. The groundwork on which it laid was quicksand at best. The idea of delisting EGUs from HAPs concerns and ultimately trading toxic mercury credits was absurd from the beginning. It is a shame it has wasted almost 5 years of the country's time, as well as deferred important decision making by responsible utilities to curb these hazardous emissions. It appears we will now move unfettered into rule making on this subject, but it will probably take a year or more to get final resolution. It was delay, delay from the beginning, we should delay no longer.

An article from CNN Money follows with details;

US Supreme Court Won't Hear Power Plant Case

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by a group of utility companies and industry trade groups to save certain Bush administration regulations on power plants.

The high court's move was not a surprise because the Obama administration recently abandoned the federal government's Supreme Court appeal in the same case. Lawyers for the new administration instead said the Environmental Protection Agency would abide by a lower court ruling that threw out a Bush-era EPA rule that sought to "delist" mercury from a list of pollutants the agency is required to control at each power plant.

The Bush administration plan sought to create an emissions trading market under which power plants, starting in 2010, would have to buy pollution credits instead of actually cutting mercury emissions.

Coal-burning utilities such as American Electric Power Co. (AEP), Southern Co. (SO), and Duke Energy Corp. (DUK) had lobbied for the plan so they would have the flexibility to decide how to produce the cheapest mercury reductions. To create the market, the EPA had to reverse a Clinton administration finding that mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants is a "hazardous air pollutant" under the Clean Air Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of the Columbia Circuit threw out the Bush administration's plan in February, 2008.

The Supreme Court on Monday let that ruling stand without comment.

The case is Utility Air Regulatory Group v. New Jersey, 08-352.

-By Brent Kendall, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9222; brent.kendall@ dowjones.com

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