State of Utah
On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court handed the Environmental Protection Agency a victory in its efforts to control pollutants that are generally emitted as part of generating electricity with coal. The decision, reached by a 6-2 decision, clears the way for the EPA to set rules limiting pollution that crosses state borders.
The regulations at issue are a product of the Clean Air Act’s “Good Neighbor” provision. This was enacted in recognition of the fact that a state might have levels of a pollutant that’s considered unsafe, but generate little to none of that pollutant within its borders—instead, it drifts into the state with the wind. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to compel states that generate these pollutants to clean up their acts.
It’s rather complicated to identify the source of these pollutants, which may come from several source states, and then determine the reductions necessary in each of those states to bring the receiving area into conformance with the Clean Air Act. And the Act itself doesn’t specify the process by which the EPA should do so; the relevant portion of the statute simply states that the EPA can regulate sources of pollution that “contribute significantly” to any state’s non-compliance.
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