HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bad Neighbor Ruling

Yesterday a three judge panel of the DC Circuit struck down the EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, known as the “Good Neighbor Rule,” which required utilities in 28 states and the District of Columbia to install new pollution controls. The basis of the ruling was that the agency overstepped its authority by issuing standards before states had a chance to develop their own. The panel also concluded that the  emissions reductions were greater than necessary.

The panel in essence substituted their judgment on whether the restrictions were excessive, ignoring their responsibility to grant the agency due deference. This calls into question the court's political objectivity. Indeed, articles reporting on the decision in the L.A. TimesCNN, and the Washington Post implied there may be some political views at play by pointing out that the deciding votes in the 2-1 decision were Bush era appointees. Indeed, a Reuters article commented that The ruling “will likely be cheered by Republicans, who have made the EPA and President Barack Obama's environmental policies a main campaign theme ahead of November elections.” The emissions reductions were estimated to prevent 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths each year. For an overview on the history and purpose of the rule, click here.


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