Heartland Institute Experts React to Supreme Court Decision on EPA Mercury Rule

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Heartland Institute experts react to the Supreme Court decision against the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule to limit mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants, saying the agency “unreasonably” failed to consider the cost of the regulations.

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James M. Taylor, Senior Fellow, Environment Policy, The Heartland Institute

This case should serve as a wake-up call for our elected officials to dramatically reform EPA and curtail its out-of-control budget, power and agenda.

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 5-4 against the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule to limit mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants, saying the agency “unreasonably” failed to consider the cost of the regulations. The EPA rule was set to take effect in April.

The following statements from energy and environment policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely(at)heartland(dot)org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“While it is surely welcome to have the Supreme Court finally begin to impede EPA's over reach in attempting to stifle economic progress through unreasonable and scientifically unsupported regulations and restrictions, it is disappointing that the decision was only made by a 5-4 majority. It means the states, industry, and all reasonable people still have a great deal of work to do to place our country back into the hands of our elected officials and away from a rogue agency that rules by fiat, with no regard for balanced scientific investigation.”

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute
jlehr(at)heartland(dot)org
312/377-4000

“It takes incredible hubris for EPA to claim that it should not be required to consider the costs when imposing far-reaching new restrictions that will strangle the U.S. economy. Making matters worse, EPA concluded it was worth imposing $9 billion in annual costs on the U.S. economy to produce merely $4 million in annual environmental benefits. Who came up with such a scheme, Bernie Madoff?

“While the Supreme Court rightfully invalidated EPA’s proposed new restrictions in this particular case, the larger and more troubling issue is EPA’s systematic sabotaging of Americans’ standard of living to appease extremist environmental agendas. This case should serve as a wake-up call for our elected officials to dramatically reform EPA and curtail its out-of-control budget, power and agenda.”

James M. Taylor
Senior fellow for Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
jtaylor(at)heartland(dot)org
312/377-4000

“This was a good decision. It offers hope to guidance for expected court challenges to recent and forthcoming EPA regulations including the clean water rule, the clean power plan, and the ozone regulation updates. As a matter of policy and law every regulation should include a thorough cost-benefit analysis conducted by researchers outside the agency, who will neither benefit from EPA research funding or from the commercial benefits bestowed by the regulations themselves. A thorough cost-benefit analysis would include the human health impact that could be expected to result from the increased costs regulations impose. Poverty is the biggest determinant of health outcomes. When regulations increase costs, jobs and health care insurance is lost, households face lower disposable income, have less to spend on health care, and human health suffers. New regulations may or may not save lives, but they certainly kill.

“Unfortunately, I expect the Obama administration’s EPA will quickly trump up some huge tremendous health benefit numbers for the mercury rule — as well as other potential toxics under court review — and downplay or ignore legitimate analysis of the costs. In other words, it will be business as usual at the EPA. Careful analyses by outside economic research institutions have shown the costs of these regulations far outweigh the public health benefits. Yet, with little or no supporting research or credible data, EPA has and will likely continue to claim that the health benefits are huge and the costs negligible — though the benefits they cite, are questionable at best and largely due to other regulations, not the regulations just rejected by the court.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
hburnett(at)heartland(dot)org
312/377-4000

“The Supreme Court has been harsh on the Obama administration’s regulatory overreach and today’s decision on mercury and air toxics standards for power plants serves as a severe smack down and has the potential to impact future regulations like the Clean Power Plan.

“Unfortunately, the decision comes after much of the electricity generation industry has started costly moves toward meeting the regulation. The EPA has essentially responded with a shrug: ‘This rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made, and most plants are already well on their way to compliance.’ Note: Just introducing the regulation forced expensive modifications and premature power plant closures — meaning increased rates for consumers and thousands of lost jobs.

“The big lesson for the Obama administration should be read between the lines. It can introduce all kinds of controversial and unreasonable rules and regulations that crush growth, kill jobs, and favor its friends and ideology — and even if it ultimately gets shot down, it will be too late; the impact will already be felt.

“The Supreme Court’s decision should also encourage more governors to follow the lead of Indiana’s Mike Pence, who recently-announced his refusal to comply with the administration’s Clean Power Plan because of its significant adverse effect on rates or reliability.”

Marita Noon
Executive Director
Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy
marita(at)responsiblenergy(dot)org
312/377-4000

The Heartland Institute is a 31-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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