Chief justice rejects plea to block air pollution rule

So, it appears that last year’s decision on the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule was a hollow victory at best.

From The Hill 

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts rejected a plea Thursday to block a contentious air pollution rule for power plants, in a big victory for the Obama administration.

Roberts’s order came despite his court’s 5-4 decision last year ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation, known as mercury and air toxics standards, is illegal.

 Michigan led a group of 20 states last month, empowered by the Supreme Court’s recent unprecedented decision to halt the EPA’s climate change rule for power plants, in asking the court to live up to its ruling last year and block the regulation’s enforcement.

 

“Unless this court stays or enjoins further operation of the Mercury and Air Toxics rule, this court’s recent decision in Michigan v. EPA will be thwarted,” the states wrote in a Feb. 23 filing with the court.

“A stay or injunction is appropriate because this court has already held that the finding on which the rule rests is unlawful and beyond EPA’s statutory authority.”

The EPA responded that no judicial stay is necessary, since it’s working to fix the problem the court identified by next month, and the states would not suffer irreparable harm in that time.

“The requested stay would harm the public interest by undermining reliance interests and the public health and environmental benefits associated with the rule,” the government said. “The application lacks merit and should be denied.”

Roberts acted swiftly, waiting less than a day after the EPA’s response brief to side with the Obama administration. He acted unilaterally, electing to reject the request himself rather than take it to the full court, which may have led to a 4-4 split following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

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