Charleston, W.Va. - The West Virginia Coal Forum is hailing Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision as a much-needed battle victory against the federal government’s war on coal.
The Coal Forum is an organization representing business and labor in West Virginia’s coal industry.
“Our nation’s highest court saw EPA's mercury rule for exactly what it was -- an economically disastrous power grab by a rogue agency and president that has been subverting Congress at every turn,” said Chris Hamilton, co-chairman of the Coal Forum. “Today, the legal system provided a much-needed check on the Executive Branch's regulatory overreach.”
The Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 rule limiting mercury and other air toxins (MATS) is invalid because the agency failed to take into account the impact the rule would have on the American economy because of the cost for compliance. Cost estimates for MATS compliance have ranged from EPA’s own estimate of $9.6 billion to as high as $100 billion, according to Credit Suisse.
Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said it is not appropriate to impose billions of dollars of economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.
"EPA must consider cost -- including cost of compliance -- before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary," the court said.
The June 29 decision stems from a 2012 lawsuit filed by a coalition of 20 states and major electric utilities that argued EPA should have considered the cost of the MATS rule before issuing the regulations.
“It is about time the legal system put EPA in check and made it clear to the entire world that the United States will not allow one federal agency to risk an entire industry and the American economy for the sake of its own political agenda,” said Fred Tucker, Coal Forum co-chairman. “Coal miners all over West Virginia can smile today knowing that we have won at least one battle in the war on coal.”
The case now goes back to lower courts for the EPA to decide how to account for costs.