A year after a U.S. appeals court vacated a Clean Air Act Rule that would have allowed a cap-and-trade approach for mercury emitted by power plants, the nation’s highest court on Monday declined to hear arguments on the case.
The Supreme Court’s denial of the appeal petition from the Utility Air Regulatory Group, a nonprofit group of utilities and industry trade associations, follows a motion earlier this month by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its own appeal.
The denial ends a long legal fight between the EPA and the Utility Air Regulatory Group, and 17 states, which charged that the federal government failed to impose strict limits on mercury emissions from power plants.
The states had sued the government in 2006. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Feb. 8, 2008, sided with the states, and dismissed the Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), saying the EPA’s delisting of mercury from the list of hazardous pollutants (HAPs) that require higher removal rates implemented over a shorter schedule (Section 112) was wrong.
The EPA wrote the CAMR assuming that mercury should be regulated under Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 111, which sets national emission standards for new stationary sources. But the appellate court reinstated a more stringent regime under CAA Section 112, which governs HAPs. Section 112 regulation of mercury requires meeting maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards—and eliminating the mercury cap-and-trade program.
The Supreme Court’s rejection of the petition to hear the case means that the appellate court decision to remand the case to the EPA stands.
The case is Utility Air Regulatory Group v. New Jersey, 08-352.
Source: New Jersey Office of the Attorney General