In a victory for the Obama administration, a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a regulation that would limit emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants mainly from coal-fired power plants, starting next year.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could help spur utility companies to shut down some coal-fired plants due to the costs of complying with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule.
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The EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) applies to 1,400 of the country's largest power plants and would come into force in 2015, or in some cases, 2016. The EPA has said that MATS could annually prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, and generate $90 billion in health benefits.
The 2012 regulation, which also targets oil-fired plants, although these are less common, was challenged by industry groups and some states. They said it was too stringent, while some environmental groups said the rule did not go far enough.
The three-judge appeals panel was split, with Judge Brett Kavanaugh writing a dissenting opinion criticizing the EPA for not considering what he said was the estimated $9.6 billion a year cost of the regulation.