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Federal Court Upholds EPA Emission Standards

The Sierra Club says coal-fired power plants are not regulated strictly enough, but energy companies say they are abiding by all federal mandates.

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld rules from the Environmental Protection Agency requiring power plants to limit emissions of mercury and other pollutants.

A three judge panel for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, DC Circuit ruled 2-1 against a challenge to the rules by several states, including Indiana, where coal is still a major source of electricity.

“[The ruling] recognized that EPA has the authority to consider cost in their rule makings, but it upheld EPA’s decision to ignore those costs, because this is a very expensive rule,” said Bruce Stevens, president of the Indiana Coal Council.

The 2012 rules were the nation’s first standards for mercury, arsenic and other pollutants from power plants that are fueled by coal or oil.

The EPA says reducing pollutants will reap benefits that outweigh the costs to power plants and, subsequently to customers. The agency argued the rules would only add $3 or $4 to the average monthly power bill.

The states had also argued that the rules would hurt their economies, particularly in states where manufacturing has been growing.

Challengers to the rules could appeal to either the full D.C. Circuit Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

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