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Supreme Court Reinstates Cross-State Air Pollution Rule

May 5, 2014

On Tuesday, April 29, the Supreme Court voted 6-2 to back a 2011 EPA rule termed the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CASPR) that requires 28 states (a map from the EPA outlining which states the mandate applies to is provided below) to cut back on smokestack emissions from coal-fired plants. The court’s decision is a significant step to the implementation of the regulation, whose progress has moved slowly thus far due to suits filed by power companies in several states, most notably Texas. According to the EPA, the following health issues will be avoided in substantial amount in 2014 with the implementation of the CSAPR rule:

Health effect Number of cases avoided
Premature mortality 13,000 to 34,000
Non-fatal heart attacks 15,000
Hospital and emergency department visit 19,000
Accute bronchitis 19,000
Upper and lower respiratory symptoms 420,000
Aggravated asthma 400,000
Days when people miss work or school 1,800,000

The new rule is projected to cost power plant operators $800 million annually, starting in 2014. Electricity prices for 2015 and beyond are already rising to accommodate the employment of the rule. These costs are a small price to pay, according to the EPA, to avoid the large number of above illnesses. The following states are implicated in the rule: